1. Neuroscience
Download icon

A central role for the retrosplenial cortex in de novo environmental learning

  1. Stephen D Auger
  2. Peter Zeidman
  3. Eleanor A Maguire  Is a corresponding author
  1. University College London, United Kingdom
Research Article
  • Cited 33
  • Views 2,416
  • Annotations
Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e09031 doi: 10.7554/eLife.09031

Abstract

With experience we become accustomed to the types of environments that we normally encounter as we navigate in the world. But how does this fundamental knowledge develop in the first place and what brain regions are involved? To examine de novo environmental learning, we created an 'alien' virtual reality world populated with landmarks of which participants had no prior experience. They learned about this environment by moving within it during functional MRI (fMRI) scanning while we tracked their evolving knowledge. Retrosplenial cortex (RSC) played a central and highly selective role by representing only the most stable, permanent features in this world. Subsequently, increased coupling was noted between RSC and hippocampus, with hippocampus then expressing knowledge of permanent landmark locations and overall environmental layout. Studying how environmental representations emerge from scratch provided a new window into the information processing underpinning the brain's navigation system, highlighting the key influence of the RSC.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Stephen D Auger

    Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Peter Zeidman

    Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Eleanor A Maguire

    Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging, Institute of Neurology, University College London, London, United Kingdom
    For correspondence
    e.maguire@ucl.ac.uk
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Ethics

Human subjects: The studies were approved by the University College London Research Ethics Committee: #1825/003 Minimum Risk Magnetic Resonance Imaging Studies of Healthy Human Cognition. Written informed consent was obtained from each participant for participation in the study, for data analysis and for publication of the study results.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Howard Eichenbaum, Boston University, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: May 28, 2015
  2. Accepted: August 14, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: August 18, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: September 4, 2015 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2015, Auger et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

Metrics

  • 2,416
    Page views
  • 488
    Downloads
  • 33
    Citations

Article citation count generated by polling the highest count across the following sources: Scopus, PubMed Central, Crossref.

Download links

A two-part list of links to download the article, or parts of the article, in various formats.

Downloads (link to download the article as PDF)

Download citations (links to download the citations from this article in formats compatible with various reference manager tools)

Open citations (links to open the citations from this article in various online reference manager services)

Further reading

    1. Neuroscience
    Kara A Fulton, Kevin L Briggman
    Tools and Resources

    A dense reconstruction of neuronal synaptic connectivity typically requires high-resolution 3D electron microscopy (EM) data, but EM data alone lacks functional information about neurons and synapses. One approach to augment structural EM datasets is with the fluorescent immunohistochemical (IHC) localization of functionally relevant proteins. We describe a protocol that obviates the requirement of tissue permeabilization in thick tissue sections, a major impediment for correlative pre-embedding IHC and EM. We demonstrate the permeabilization-free labeling of neuronal cell types, intracellular enzymes, and synaptic proteins in tissue sections hundreds of microns thick in multiple brain regions from mice while simultaneously retaining the ultrastructural integrity of the tissue. Finally, we explore the utility of this protocol by performing proof-of-principle correlative experiments combining two-photon imaging of protein distributions and 3D EM.

    1. Neuroscience
    Alexa Pichet Binette et al.
    Research Article

    Beta-amyloid (Aβ) and tau proteins, the pathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD), are believed to spread through connected regions of the brain. Combining diffusion imaging and positron emission tomography, we investigated associations between white matter microstructure specifically in bundles connecting regions where Aβ or tau accumulates and pathology. We focussed on free-water corrected diffusion measures in the anterior cingulum, posterior cingulum, and uncinate fasciculus in cognitively normal older adults at risk of sporadic AD and presymptomatic mutation carriers of autosomal dominant AD. In Aβ-positive or tau-positive groups, lower tissue fractional anisotropy and higher mean diffusivity related to greater Aβ and tau burden in both cohorts. Associations were found in the posterior cingulum and uncinate fasciculus in preclinical sporadic AD, and in the anterior and posterior cingulum in presymptomatic mutation carriers. These results suggest that microstructural alterations accompany pathological accumulation as early as the preclinical stage of both sporadic and autosomal dominant AD.