Dudchenko P & Wood ER (2015) Place fields and the cognitive map. Hippocampus, 25 (6), pp. 709-712. https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.22450
The discovery of place cells by John O'Keefe in the early 1970s was a breakthrough not just for systems neuroscience, but also for psychology: place fields provided a clear neural substrate for the notion of a cognitive map, a construct devised to explain rat learning and spatial cognition. However, is the robust location-related firing of place cells still best conceptualised as a cognitive map? In this commentary, we reassess this view of hippocampus function in light of subsequent findings on place cells. We argue that as place fields encode local space, and as they are modulated by ongoing behavior, the representation they provide may be more cognitive than map-like.
Hippocampus: Volume 25, Issue 6