Netherlands, Nijmegen

Animal Navigation

when 1 July 2019 - 5 July 2019
language English
duration 1 week
credits 2 ECTS
fee EUR 650

Have you wondered how we navigate? How does the brain orchestrate computations that enable the wanderer in us? If so, join us to learn from world-leading experts about the neural basis of spatial navigation.

“Life’s aim is an act not a thought. The brain seems a thoroughfare for nerve-action passing its way to the motor animal.” Sir Charles Scott Sherrington, The Brain and its Mechanisms (1933).

Our ability to navigate effectively and efficiently through our spatial environment is central to everyday life. For example, it is imperative that we find our way to and from work everyday, and that we are able to plan the shortest and fastest route to achieve this. Although machines, of varying kinds, are able to perform some basic spatial navigation functions, the brain far-exceeds machines in terms of its deductive reasoning power. Namely, the brain is able to deduce the state of the world based on (often) minimal sensory information. This deductive power in neuronal processing enables the brain to create motor action with limited sensory information while incoming information (let it be current or previously acquired; sensory and/or contextual; detailed or abstract) available to the brain serves to perform real-time error correction during navigation.

To enable navigation the brain encodes the sensory, motor and cognitive representations of the world as maps. From hippocampal place cells that encode our locational progression in space to the maps of the premotor and motor cortices that plan and encode action, neural pathways responsible for decoding sensory information and encoding action are organized to process information in the form of topographical representations.

In this course, we will follow the footsteps of Sherrington and learn how the brain performs egocentric and allocentric computations to drive navigation. Lectures by world-leading experts of navigation will be complemented with hands-on demonstrations (in collaboration with MuZIEum), including a guided navigation of downtown Nijmegen with your eyes closed.

Course leader

Tansu Celikel
Proffesor and Chair of Neurophysiology & Department Head
Department of Neurophysiology
Donders Institute
Science Faculty
Radboud University

H. Freya Ólafsdóttir
Assistant Professor
Department of Neurophysiology
Donders Instit

Target group

Advanced bachelor, master, PhD, post-doc, professional. The course is designed for biologists, psychologists, cognitive scientists and any neuroscientist who is interested in acquiring in-depth information on how the brain performs navigation.

Course aim

After this course you are able to:
1. Analyse sensation, perception and action in terms of basic operational principles of the brain,
2.Relate principles of neural representations from small-scale networks to larger-scale functional maps in the brain,
3.Identify the neural structures and circuits that encode navigation,
4.Discuss the minimal circuit requirements to drive animal navigation.

Fee info

EUR 650: Normal fee

Scholarships

€ 585 early bird discount – deadline 1 March 2019 (10%)
€ 553 partner + RU discount (15%)
€ 488 early bird + partner + RU discount (25%)