The boundary vector cell model of place cell firing and spatial memory

Rev Neurosci. 2006;17(1-2):71-97. doi: 10.1515/revneuro.2006.17.1-2.71.


We review evidence for the boundary vector cell model of the environmental determinants of the firing of hippocampal place cells. Preliminary experimental results are presented concerning the effects of addition or removal of environmental boundaries on place cell firing and evidence that boundary vector cells may exist in the subiculum. We review and update computational simulations predicting the location of human search within a virtual environment of variable geometry, assuming that boundary vector cells provide one of the input representations of location used in mammalian spatial memory. Finally, we extend the model to include experience-dependent modification of connection strengths through a BCM-like learning rule - the size and sign of strength change is influenced by historic activity of the postsynaptic cell. Simulations are compared to experimental data on the firing of place cells under geometrical manipulations to their environment. The relationship between neurophysiological results in rats and spatial behaviour in humans is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Learning / physiology
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Orientation / physiology
  • Rats
  • Space Perception / physiology*