Hippocampal remapping as hidden state inference

Published Date: 
June 9, 2020

Cells in the hippocampus tuned to spatial location (place cells) typically change their tuning when an animal changes context, a phenomenon known as remapping. A fundamental challenge to understanding remapping is the fact that what counts as a ‘‘context change’’ has never been precisely defined. Furthermore, different remapping phenomena have been classified on the basis of how much the tuning changes after different types and degrees of context change, but the relationship between these variables is not clear. We address these ambiguities by formalizing remapping in terms of hidden state inference. According to this view, remapping does not directly reflect objective, observable properties of the environment, but rather subjective beliefs about the hidden state of the environment. We show how the hidden state framework can resolve a number of puzzles about the nature of remapping.