Accurate navigation is thought to depend on a neural representation of directional heading, which is carried by an ascending circuit of head direction cells located throughout the limbic system. This head direction signal appears to depend critically on the vestibular system, as the head direction signal and navigation abilities are disrupted by vestibular damage. However, vestibular lesions also disrupt other brain signals, such as the place cell signal of hippocampus, and navigation deficits may therefore result from this collateral damage. As a complementary approach, the proposed studies will use otoconia-deficient mice, which have degraded head direction signals, to evaluate the role of the head direction signal in landmark navigation and path integration. The proposed studies will provide important insight into the roles of vestibular signals in neural representations of space and the roles of these representations in navigation. A thorough understanding of the vestibular contribution to the neural and cognitive representations of space may allow new approaches to the treatment of vestibular pathologies.

Public Health Relevance

Disorientation can occur in many pathologies, including dementia, Alzheimer's disease, and drug abuse, among others. Understanding the brain mechanisms that contribute to disorientation will advance our ability to treat or prevent this debilitating component of these disorders.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Institute
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
Type
Academic Research Enhancement Awards (AREA) (R15)
Project #
1R15DC012630-01
Application #
8366954
Study Section
Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1-MDCN-E (96))
Program Officer
Platt, Christopher
Project Start
2012-07-05
Project End
2015-06-30
Budget Start
2012-07-05
Budget End
2015-06-30
Support Year
1
Fiscal Year
2012
Total Cost
$403,431
Indirect Cost
$103,431
Name
Purdue University
Department
Psychology
Type
Schools of Arts and Sciences
DUNS #
072051394
City
West Lafayette
State
IN
Country
United States
Zip Code
47907
Yoder, Ryan M; Kirby, Seth L (2014) Otoconia-deficient mice show selective spatial deficits. Hippocampus 24:1169-77