Integration of velocity-dependent spatio-temporal structure of place cell activation during navigation in a reservoir model of prefrontal cortex

Pablo Scleidorovich, Alfredo Weitzenfeld, Jean Marc Fellous, Peter Ford Dominey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sequential behavior unfolds both in space and in time. The same spatial trajectory can be realized in different manners in the same overall time by changing instantaneous speeds. The current research investigates how speed profiles might be given behavioral significance and how cortical networks might encode this information. We first demonstrate that rats can associate different speed patterns on the same trajectory with distinct behavioral choices. In this novel experimental paradigm, rats follow a small baited robot in a large megaspace environment where the rat’s speed is precisely controlled by the robot’s speed. Based on this proof of concept and research showing that recurrent reservoir networks are ideal for representing spatio-temporal structures, we then test reservoir networks in simulated navigation contexts and demonstrate they can discriminate between traversals of the same path with identical durations but different speed profiles. We then test the networks in an embodied robotic setup, where we use place cell representations from physically navigating robots as input and again successfully discriminate between traversals. To demonstrate that this capability is inherent to recurrent networks, we compared the model against simple linear integrators. Interestingly, although the linear integrators could also perform the speed profile discrimination, a clear difference emerged when examining information coding in both models. Reservoir neurons displayed a form of statistical mixed selectivity as a complex interaction between spatial location and speed that was not as abundant in the linear integrators. This mixed selectivity is characteristic of cortex and reservoirs and allows us to generate specific predictions about the neural activity that will be recorded in rat cortex in future experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-610
Number of pages26
JournalBiological Cybernetics
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Mixed selectivity
  • Navigation
  • Prefrontal cortex
  • Rat
  • Reservoir computing
  • Robotics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • General Computer Science


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