The sense of direction is a vital computation, whose neural basis is considered to be carried out by head-direction cells. One way to estimate head-direction is by integrating head angular-velocity over time. However, this process results in error accumulation resembling a random walk, proportional to , which constitutes a mark for a path integration process. In the present study we analyzed previously recorded data to quantify the drift in head-direction cells of rat pups before and after eye-opening. We found that in rat pups before eye-opening the drift propagated as a random walk, while in rats after eye-opening the drift was lower. This suggests that a path-integration process underlies the estimation of head-direction, such that before eye-opening the head-direction system runs in an open-loop manner and accumulates error. After eye-opening, visual-input, such as arena shape, helps to correct errors and thus compute the sense of direction accurately.
|State||Published - 2018|