Physiological bases of navigation

Eva Zita Patai, Hugo J. Spiers, The Versatile Wayfinder: Prefrontal Contributions to Spatial Navigation, . Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 25, Issue 6, 2021, Pages 520-533 DOI: 10.1016/j.tics.2021.02.010.

The prefrontal cortex (PFC) supports decision-making, goal tracking, and planning. Spatial navigation is a behavior that taxes these cognitive processes, yet the role of the PFC in models of navigation has been largely overlooked. In humans, activity in dorsolateral PFC (dlPFC) and ventrolateral PFC (vlPFC) during detours, reveal a role in inhibition and replanning. Dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (dACC) is implicated in planning and spontaneous internally-generated changes of route. Orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) integrates representations of the environment with the value of actions, providing a ‘map’ of possible decisions. In rodents, medial frontal areas interact with hippocampus during spatial decisions and switching between navigation strategies. In reviewing these advances, we provide a framework for how different prefrontal regions may contribute to different stages of navigation.

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