To plan a route from A to B, we need to know where we are and where we’re going. Place cells in the brain help to map out our current location, yet how the brain deals with destinations used to be a mystery – until a cunning experiment with Egyptian fruit bats like this one. Wearing wireless trackers on their heads, the bats flew towards a perch full of tasty bananas. Researchers found that cells in the hippocampus came alive with activity – vector neurons fizzling with information about the distance to their destination, and the angle of flight required to get there. Place cells are also found in the hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in storing memories. Some researchers are wondering if this connection might explain why human Alzheimer’s sufferers losing their memories also sometimes lose their way.
Written by John Ankers
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