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

Tamir Eliav, Shir R Maimon, Johnatan Aljadeff, Misha Tsodyks, Gily Ginosar, Liora Las, Nachum Ulanovsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hippocampal place cells encode the animal’s location. Place cells were traditionally studied in small environments, and nothing is known about large ethologically relevant spatial scales. We wirelessly recorded from hippocampal dorsal CA1 neurons of wild-born bats flying in a long tunnel (200 meters). The size of place fields ranged from 0.6 to 32 meters. Individual place cells exhibited multiple fields and a multiscale representation: Place fields of the same neuron differed up to 20-fold in size. This multiscale coding was observed from the first day of exposure to the environment, and also in laboratory-born bats that never experienced large environments. Theoretical decoding analysis showed that the multiscale code allows representation of very large environments with much higher precision than that of other codes. Together, by increasing the spatial scale, we discovered a neural code that is radically different from classical place codes.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabg4020
Number of pages14
JournalScience (American Association for the Advancement of Science)
Issue number6545
StatePublished - 28 May 2021


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