Science & Society Seminar #3
with May-Britt Moser
The AERG is thrilled to host its third Webinar in its "Science & Society" series. This event was organized online on June 30th @ 17:00 CET, and featured Nobel Laureate and ERC Grantee May-Britt Moser.
A recording is available here.
Professor Moser presented a lecture titled:
"Space and memory in the brain"
and overviewed how the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex of mammals are involved in episodic memory (memory for events) and spatial navigation.
Participation is free but registration is mandatory.
About our meeting with May-Britt Moser
May-Britt Moser is a Professor of Neuroscience at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, where she also acts as Scientific Director of the Centre for Neural Computation and as Scientific Co-Director of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience, both of which she founded. She is interested in the neural basis of spatial location and spatial memory. Her work, conducted with Edvard Moser as a long-term collaborator, includes the discovery of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, as well as the identification of other functional cell types, including head direction cells, border cells, speed cells and object-vector cells – findings that collectively point to the entorhinal cortex as a hub for the brain network for representation of space and experience. She has shown that this network has adult-like properties from very early age in rodents, pointing to a possible innate basis for spatial coding by the brain. With her collaborators, she is beginning to unravel how the neural microcircuit is organized at the level of interactions between large numbers of diverse neurons with known functional identity – an endeavour that is significantly boosted by the recent development of Neuropixels probes and 2-photon miniscopes for simultaneous recording of thousands of neurons in freely-moving rats and mice (the latter developed in her lab). The discovery of grid cells and the underlying population dynamics have led to revising established views of how the brain calculates self-position, and how such information is stored in memory and used in spatial mapping.
For her discoveries concerning the neural systems that underlie spatial representation in the mammalian brain, May-Britt Moser was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, together with Norwegian neuroscientist Edvard I. Moser and with British-American neuroscientist John O’Keefe.
In her lecture, titled “Space and memory in the brain” Professor Moser will discuss how the hippocampus and the entorhinal cortex of mammals are involved in episodic memory (memory for events) and spatial navigation. She will show how neurons (brain cells) in the entorhinal cortex respond electrically to the environment the animal is traversing and present data both from sensors implanted in the brain of freely behaving animals and from animals running around with tiny 2-photon microscopes attached to their head. The entorhinal cortex contains neurons that map self-motion, self-location, and objects, and she will show that this brain region is able to associate odours with space. These findings suggest that entorhinal cortex provides the hippocampus with information about location in a navigational setting ready to be associated with experiences in order to form episodic memories. The organization of the entorhinal-hippocampal brain circuit, and its impact on navigation and memory skills, provide a framework for understanding Alzheimer’s disease, which has cell death in this region as one of its earliest features.
To discuss these issues, Professor Moser was joined by a number of distinguished panelists, including Professor Stanislas Dehaene and Science journalist Alison Abbott.