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Neural basis of natural navigation: Representation of goals, 3-D spaces and 1-km distances in the bat hippocampal formation – the role of experience

Total Cost €


EC-Contrib. €






 NATURAL_BAT_NAV project word cloud

Explore the words cloud of the NATURAL_BAT_NAV project. It provides you a very rough idea of what is the project "NATURAL_BAT_NAV" about.

head    weizmann       world    neurons    biologically    flat    versus    bat    underlie    circuits    cognition    goals    direction    encode    record    dramatically    grid    ways    fly    navigating    animal    lab    born    utilize    location    times    supports    flying    place    examine    bridge    bats    single    position    collectively    never    facility    navigation    scales    train    science    encoding    natural    map    traveled    km    life    search    flight    room    contains    objects    rodents    navigate    conceptual    neural    setups    kilometer    plan    spatial    space    differs    least    border    running    gap    wild    nothing    cell    dimensional    vectorial    almost    small    hippocampal    mammalian    compass    linear    functional    laboratory    class    cells    tracks    compare    empty    distance    odometer    directed    preliminary    size    brain    illuminate    distances    existence    codes    thought    neuron    boxes   

Project "NATURAL_BAT_NAV" data sheet

The following table provides information about the project.


Organization address
address: HERZL STREET 234
postcode: 7610001

contact info
title: n.a.
name: n.a.
surname: n.a.
function: n.a.
email: n.a.
telephone: n.a.
fax: n.a.

 Coordinator Country Israel [IL]
 Project website
 Total cost 2˙000˙000 €
 EC max contribution 2˙000˙000 € (100%)
 Programme 1. H2020-EU.1.1. (EXCELLENT SCIENCE - European Research Council (ERC))
 Code Call ERC-2015-CoG
 Funding Scheme ERC-COG
 Starting year 2016
 Duration (year-month-day) from 2016-11-01   to  2021-10-31


Take a look of project's partnership.

# participants  country  role  EC contrib. [€] 
1    WEIZMANN INSTITUTE OF SCIENCE IL (REHOVOT) coordinator 2˙000˙000.00


 Project objective

The mammalian hippocampal formation contains place cells, grid cells, head-direction cells and border cells, which collectively represent the animal’s position (‘map’), distance traveled (‘odometer’) and direction (‘compass’), and are thought to underlie navigation. These neurons are typically studied in rodents running on linear tracks or in small empty boxes, ~1×1 m in size. However, real-world navigation differs dramatically from typical laboratory setups, in at least three ways – which we plan to study: (1) The world is not empty, but contains objects and goals. Almost nothing is known about how neural circuits represent goal location – which is essential for navigating towards the goal. We will record single-neuron activity in bats flying towards spatial goals, in search for cells that encode vectorial information about the direction and distance to the goal. Preliminary results support the existence of such cells in the bat hippocampal formation. This new functional cell class of vectorial goal-encoding neurons may underlie goal-directed navigation. (2) The world is not flat, but three-dimensional (3-D). We will train bats to fly in a large flight-room and examine 3-D grid cells and 3-D border cells. (3) The world is not 1-m in size, and both rodents and bats navigate over kilometer-scale distances. Nothing is known about how the brain supports such real-life navigation. We will utilize a 1-km long test facility at the Weizmann Institute of Science, and record place cells and grid cells in bats navigating over biologically relevant spatial scales. Further, we will compare neural codes for space in wild-born bats versus bats born in the lab – which have never experienced a 1-km distance – to illuminate the role of experience in mammalian spatial cognition. Taken together, this set of studies will bridge the gap – a conceptual gap and a gap in spatial scale – between hippocampal laboratory studies and real-world natural navigation.


year authors and title journal last update
List of publications.
2018 Tamir Eliav, Maya Geva-Sagiv, Michael M. Yartsev, Arseny Finkelstein, Alon Rubin, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky
Nonoscillatory Phase Coding and Synchronization in the Bat Hippocampal Formation
published pages: 1119-1130.e15, ISSN: 0092-8674, DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.09.017
Cell 175/4 2019-09-04
2017 Ayelet Sarel, Arseny Finkelstein, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky
Vectorial representation of spatial goals in the hippocampus of bats
published pages: 176-180, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aak9589
Science 355/6321 2019-06-18
2018 David B. Omer, Shir R. Maimon, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky
Social place-cells in the bat hippocampus
published pages: 218-224, ISSN: 0036-8075, DOI: 10.1126/science.aao3474
Science 359/6372 2019-06-18

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