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Title: The computational neuroscience of head direction cells
Author: Walters, Daniel Matthew
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2011
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Head direction cells signal the orientation of the head in the horizontal plane. This thesis shows how some of the known head direction cell response properties might develop through learning. The research methodology employed is the computer simulation of neural network models of head direction cells that self-organize through learning. The preferred firing directions of head direction cells will change in response to the manipulation of distal visual cues, but not in response to the manipulation of proximal visual cues. Simulation results are presented of neural network models that learn to form separate representations of distal and proximal visual cues that are presented simultaneously as visual input to the network. These results demonstrate the computation required for a subpopulation of head direction cells to learn to preferentially respond to distal visual cues. Within a population of head direction cells, the angular distance between the preferred firing directions of any two cells is maintained across different environments. It is shown how a neural network model can learn to maintain the angular distance between the learned preferred firing directions of head direction cells across two different visual training environments. A population of head direction cells can update the population representation of the current head direction, in the absence of visual input, using internal idiothetic (self-generated) motion signals alone. This is called the path integration of head direction. It is important that the head direction cell system updates its internal representation of head direction at the same speed as the animal is rotating its head. Neural network models are simulated that learn to perform the path integration of head direction, using solely idiothetic signals, at the same speed as the head is rotating.
Supervisor: Stringer, Simon M.; Buckley, Mark Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computational Neuroscience ; Theoretical Neuroscience ; Head Direction Cells ; Neural Networks ; Spatial Processing