ESR 3 : Neural mechanisms of shortcut and detour finding in humans and rodents

Supervisors: Hugo Spiers and Kate Jeffery

M-GATE fellow: Nils Nyberg

This fellow will study adaptive navigation behaviour in rats and humans. How an organism adapts to changes in its environment is a centrally important question to neuroscience and ecology. The project will investigate the neural mechanisms that support shortcuts and detours we have devised a navigation task suitable for both humans, rodents. Dr Spiers has recently developed a novel task for this project. Like the Morris-water maze the rat or human must use the distance to the boundary with the directional cue to solve a homing to goal task. Rats navigate a physical arena 2x2m, humans navigate in an immersive virtual reality. Once navigators have successful learned to navigate from anywhere on the perimeter to the goal, the environment is transformed by removing sections of the maze to create barriers. Neural recordings in rats are made with single unit electrophysiology and via fMRI and MEG in humans. Machine Learning approaches will be developed with specialists at DEEPMIND for modelling these data, and related data from NTNU and INMED.

In collaboration with NTNU, INMED, DEEPMIND.