A coupled attractor model of the rodent head direction system

Abstract
Head direction (HD) cells, abundant in the rat postsubiculum and anterior thalamic nuclei, fire maximally when the rat’s head is facing a particular direction. The activity of a population of these cells forms a distributed representation of the animal’s current heading. We describe a neural network model that creates a stable, distributed representation of head direction and updates that representation in response to angular velocity information. In contrast to earlier models, our model of the head direction system accurately tracks a series of actual rat head rotations, and, using biologically plausible neurons, it fits the single-cell tuning curves of real HD cells recorded from rats executing those same rotations. The model makes neurophysiological predictions that can be tested using current technologies
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