Columbia University in the City of New York

Oct 3, 202310:30 am

Columbia Neuroscience Seminar - Nachum Ulanovsky

Neural codes for natural behaviors in flying bats

October 3rd, 10:30 am – 11:30 am at the Jerome L. Greene Science Center (9th floor lecture hall)

This event will be in-person only for Columbia University Affiliates and will not offer a Zoom option


Nachum Ulanovsky, PhD

Head of Center for Learning, Memory & Cognition

Department of Brain Sciences

Weizmann Institute of Science


Neural codes for natural behaviors in flying bats


This talk will focus on the importance of using natural behaviors in neuroscience research – the “Natural Neuroscience” approach. I will illustrate this point by describing studies of neural codes for spatial behaviors and social behaviors, in flying bats – using wireless neurophysiology methods that we developed – and will highlight new neuronal representations that we discovered in animals navigating through 3D spaces, or in very large-scale environments. In particular, I will discuss three recent studies: (1) A multi-scale neural code for very large environments, which we discovered in the hippocampus of bats flying in a 200-meter long tunnel. This new type of neural code is fundamentally different from spatial codes reported in small environments – and we show theoretically that it is superior for representing very large spaces. (2) Rapid modulation of position × distance coding in the hippocampus during collision-avoidance behavior between two bats flying in the long tunnel. This result provides a dramatic illustration of the extreme dynamism of the neural code. (3) I will also describe new results on the social representation of other individuals in the hippocampus, in a highly social multi-animal setting – which revealed complex neuronal coding of social variables. The lecture will propose that neuroscience experiments – in bats, rodents, monkeys or humans – should be conducted under evermore naturalistic conditions.


Relevation Publications:

Multiscale representation of very large environments in the hippocampus of flying bats

Natural Switches in behavior rapidly modulate hippocampal coding


Host(s): Mickey Goldberg (Faculty)

Please contact [email protected] with any questions.


The Columbia Neuroscience Seminar series is a collaborative effort of Columbia's Zuckerman Institute, the Department of Neuroscience, the Doctoral Program in Neurobiology and Behavior and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative, and with support from the Kavli Institute for Brain Science.

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

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