Nobel Prize/Medicine

Inner GPS

Print edition : November 14, 2014

John O'Keefe in his laboratory in London. Photo: ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP

May-Britt and Edvard Moser with their experimental rats in a laboratory in Trondheim, Norway, in 2008. Photo: Geir Mogen, NTNU/AP

Top (Figure 1): To the right is a schematic of the experimental rat. The hippocampus, where the place cells are located, is highlighted. The grey square depicts the open field the rat is moving over. Place cells fire when it reaches a particular location in the environment. The dots indicate the rat’s location in the arena when the place cell is active. Different place cells in the hippocampus fire at different places in the arena. Middle (Figure 2): Grid cells are located in the entorhinal cortex (blue). A single grid cell fires when the rat reaches particular locations in the arena. These locations are arranged in a hexagonal pattern.Bottom (Figure 3): A schematic showing grid cells (blue) and place cells (yellow) in the entorhinal cortex and hippocampus, respectively. Photo: Courtesy:The Nobel Prize website of the Nobel Foundation

The Nobel Prize-winning work of John O’Keefe and May-Britt and Edvard Moser has unravelled the brain’s positioning and navigation system and marks a paradigm shift in the understanding of the neurological basis for higher cognitive functions.
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