Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Finding the Way

Role of the retrosplenial cortex region of the brain in spatial orientation

17 August 2021

Finding the Way

It’s easy to get lost somewhere new, but have you ever struggled for a moment to place yourself even somewhere familiar? Disorientation is common in people with damage to a particular part of the brain – the retrosplenial cortex (pictured, from a mouse) – but we don’t know how it commands our sense of space. To investigate, researchers examined neurons unique to this area of the brain (white), and found that inputs from other brain regions (blue and pink) involved in positioning communicated preferentially with them. These specialised neurons interpret spatial signals to help the mice determine the position and movement of their heads, suggesting they would be well equipped to deal with other spatial information. It's one of the first brain regions to show altered activity in people with Alzheimer’s disease, who often show similar disorientation to those with brain damage, so investigating these key neurons could lead to new ways forward.

Written by Anthony Lewis

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