Angular velocity and head direction signals recorded from the dorsal tegmental nucleus of gudden in the rat: implications for path integration in the head direction cell circuit

Behav Neurosci. 2001 Jun;115(3):571-88.


When a rat navigates through space, head direction (HD) cells provide an ongoing signal of the rat's directional heading. It is thought that these cells rely, in part, on angular path integration of the rat's head movements. This integration requires that the HD cell system receive information about angular head movements and that this information be combined with the current directional signal, to generate the next "predicted" direction. Recent data suggest that the dorsal tegmental nucleus (DTN) may play a critical role in helping to generate the HD cell signal. To test this, recordings were made from cells in the DTN in freely moving rats. The following cell types were found: (a) "classic" HD cells, (b) angular velocity cells, and (c) cells that fired as a function of both head direction and angular velocity. Thus, DTN cells exhibit firing characteristics that are critical to the neural circuit hypothesized for generation of the HD cell signal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration
  • Animals
  • Brain Mapping
  • Dominance, Cerebral / physiology
  • Head Movements / physiology*
  • Kinesthesis / physiology*
  • Male
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Orientation / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Long-Evans
  • Tegmentum Mesencephali / physiology*