Columbia University in the City of New York

Dec 5, 20174:00 pm

Bridging the Gap Between the Spatial and Mnemonic Views of the Hippocampus

Featuring Elizabeth Buffalo, PhD, Professor of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Washington School of Medicine

December 5th, 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm at the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)

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Presentation Abstract

While it has long been recognized that medial temporal lobe structures are important for memory formation, studies in rodents have also identified exquisite spatial representations in these regions in the form of place cells in the hippocampus and grid cells in the entorhinal cortex.  Spatial representations entail neural activity that is observed when the rat is in a given physical location, and these representations are thought to form the basis of navigation via path integration.  One striking difference between rodents and primates is the way in which information about the external world is gathered.  Rodents typically gather information by moving to visit different locations in the environment, sniffing and whisking.  By contrast, primates chiefly use eye movements to visually explore an environment, and our visual system allows for inspection of the environment at a distance. In this seminar, I will discuss recent work from my laboratory that has examined neural activity in the hippocampus and adjacent entorhinal cortex in monkeys performing behavioral tasks including free-viewing of complex natural scenes and memory tasks in a virtual environment. These data have suggested that spatial representations including place cells, grid cells, border cells, and direction-selective cells can be identified in the primate hippocampal formation even in the absence of physical movement through an environment. I will also discuss new research involving chronic, large-scale recordings throughout the primate brain and other areas of opportunity for future research to further our understanding of the function of the hippocampal formation and the nature of the cognitive map.

Elizabeth Buffalo is a professor in the Department of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington and the chief of the Neuroscience Division of the Washington National Primate Research Center. Dr. Buffalo received her PhD in neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Buffalo’s research focuses on understanding the neural mechanisms that support learning and memory. Her research has been supported by awards from the NIH, the Simons Foundation, Pfizer, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and she was the 2011 recipient of the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for her innovative, multidisciplinary study of the hippocampus and the neural basis of memory.

Faculty host: Joshua Jacobs, PhD

Registration is strongly encouraged. Seating is limited.

For questions about the lecture, please contact [email protected].

Those who wish to meet the speaker during the visit should contact Dr. Jacobs.


This seminar is part of the Systems, Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience Seminar Series at Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, which focuses on cognition and decision making research. Internationally renowned speakers present their recent work on these topics using behavioral, neurobiological and computational approaches. Seminars take place approximately every other week on Tuesdays in the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor).

Venue: the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)
3227 Broadway, New York NY 10027

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