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, 62 (2), 128-39

The Evolution of the Cognitive Map


The Evolution of the Cognitive Map

Lucia F Jacobs. Brain Behav Evol.


The hippocampal formation of mammals and birds mediates spatial orientation behaviors consistent with a map-like representation, which allows the navigator to construct a new route across unfamiliar terrain. This cognitive map thus appears to underlie long-distance navigation. Its mediation by the hippocampal formation and its presence in birds and mammals suggests that at least one function of the ancestral medial pallium was spatial navigation. Recent studies of the goldfish and certain reptile species have shown that the medial pallium homologue in these species can also play an important role in spatial orientation. It is not yet clear, however, whether one type of cognitive map is found in these groups or indeed in all vertebrates. To answer this question, we need a more precise definition of the map. The recently proposed parallel map theory of hippocampal function provides a new perspective on this question, by unpacking the mammalian cognitive map into two dissociable mapping processes, mediated by different hippocampal subfields. If the cognitive map of non-mammals is constructed in a similar manner, the parallel map theory may facilitate the analysis of homologies, both in behavior and in the function of medial pallium subareas.

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