Computational cross-species views of the hippocampal formation

Seren L. Zhu, Kaushik J. Lakshminarasimhan, Dora E. Angelaki

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


The discovery of place cells and head direction cells in the hippocampal formation of freely foraging rodents has led to an emphasis of its role in encoding allocentric spatial relationships. In contrast, studies in head-fixed primates have additionally found representations of spatial views. We review recent experiments in freely moving monkeys that expand upon these findings and show that postural variables such as eye/head movements strongly influence neural activity in the hippocampal formation, suggesting that the function of the hippocampus depends on where the animal looks. We interpret these results in the light of recent studies in humans performing challenging navigation tasks which suggest that depending on the context, eye/head movements serve one of two roles—gathering information about the structure of the environment (active sensing) or externalizing the contents of internal beliefs/deliberation (embodied cognition). These findings prompt future experimental investigations into the information carried by signals flowing between the hippocampal formation and the brain regions controlling postural variables, and constitute a basis for updating computational theories of the hippocampal system to accommodate the influence of eye/head movements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)586-599
Number of pages14
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2023


  • active sensing
  • embodied cognition
  • eye movements
  • hippocampus
  • primate

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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