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thesis offer navigation in the primate

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General information

Reference : UMR5229-SYLWIR-001
Workplace : BRON
Date of publication : Thursday, August 01, 2019
Scientific Responsible name : Sylvia Wirth
Type of Contract : PhD Student contract / Thesis offer
Contract Period : 36 months
Start date of the thesis : 1 September 2019
Proportion of work : Full time
Remuneration : 2 135,00 € gross monthly

Description of the thesis topic

Wayfinding is an essential function for every living creature, on which reliesy a great part of our actions. But what about the processing of the multimodal input in order toHow does the brain generate a representation of the world that maps external stimuli relative to each other and relative to the self? This question is all the more important as studies aiming at investigating those mechanisms in primate are quite rare, while there is more and more people affected by disorientation-related neurological and psychiatric diseases, such as dementia or Alzheimer disease. In this context, this thesis project has two goals: (1) better to understand the way the how egocentric (self-centered) input are translated/convertedis used to build an allocentric (independent of the self) map of our environment, and (2) to determine the particular importance of the gaze in primate navigation. In order to reach these objectives, we will focus our research on two, still very poorly documented in primate cerebral areas, both upstream the hippocampus: the retrosplenial cortex and the posterior cingulate cortexcortices. Considering their close interactions with both hippocampus and parietal cortex, they are certainly involved in the translation processes of the trajectory and objects position, respectively, from an egocentric reference frame to an allocentric one. In order to test this hypothesis, we will describe/characterize/record the simultaneous activity of our regions of interestin these regions, as well as of the hippocampus, while the animals will be performing spatial-orientation behavioural tasks. These tasks will allow a neuronal encoding of animals' trajectory or environment, either in an ego- or allocentric reference frame. They will be presented via virtual reality, a modern method that produce very ecological stimuli and contexts/conditions for animals. In combination with the electrophysiological recording techniqueelectrophysiology, it will lead to a rich documentation of the spatial cognition field of research. Moreover, as the retrosplenial and the posterior cingulate cortices are still-unexplored structures in primates, our results have a groundbreaking potential.

Work Context

the thesis will take place at the Institut des Sciences cognitives Marc Jeannerod within the team Neuropsychologie des processus cognitifs directed by Jean-René Duhamel.

Constraints and risks

Programming skills in matlab and c#
good knowledge of cerebral anatomy of the macaque
good knowledge of the neurological processes underlying navigation
prior experience in electrophysiology

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