Jesse Geerts studies how the hippocampus implements learning algorithms that help animals navigate to rewarding locations. In particular, he is interested in the role of neurons that encode particular routes that animals take.
In addition to place and grid cells, the hippocampal formation contains neurons that represent specific trajectories that animals take. These ''splitter cells’’ are intriguing from the perspective of reinforcement learning, because representations of routes can enable learning in complex environments. Jesse combines computational modelling with the analysis of electrophysiology and behavioural data to understand the role that these representations play. These findings will provide new insight into the role of this understudied functional cell type, as well as a more broader understanding of how neural representations of space influence navigation behaviour.
Jesse is advised by Marcus Stephenson-Jones and supervised by Professor Neil Burgess (SWC affiliate).