Laboratory of Spatial Memory

Head: Rafał Czajkowski


Team: Adam Hamed, Monika Falińska, Edyta Balcerek (PhD student), Piotr Maj, Justyna Sobich


Research profile

The ability to recognize, remember and utilize the knowledge about the external environment is one of the most fascinating adaptive features in the animal kingdom. The development of such capability is fueled by evolutionary progress in the complexity of brain structure and function. This includes the emergence of specialized brain structures responsible for multiple aspects of spatial memory, and their ability to undergo plastic changes that allow for flexible adaptation to the changing elements of the environment. Spatial memory is necessary for independent functioning of humans, its defects lead to deep functional disability. In all mammals the central structure involved in spatial memory is the hippocampus. Certain cortical structures that connect directly or indirectly to hippocampus also participate in these processes. They gather information from other brain areas, filter and synchronize it. The interactions between brain structures responsible for spatial memory allow optimal selection of navigation strategy and provide balance between exploration of novel areas and the exploiting of already learned places. The importance of cortical structures in encoding and storage of spatial memory has been acknowledged only recently and its role has not yet been fully explained. It is therefore necessary to create an overall model that would describe the functioning of the entire system and explain how the interactions between different areas, layers or neuronal populations produce a coherent output that is manifested by successful behavior. Understanding of such complex system is possible with the use of animal models.



  • Behavioral tests: T maze, open field, classical and instrumental conditioning
  • Optogenetic manipulations in vivo
  • In vivo two photon and miniscope imaging
  • Electrophysiology in vivo


Current projects

  • Involvement of retrosplenial cortex in the process of encoding and retrieval of spatial memory
  • Functional relationship between activity of retrosplenial cortex and hippocampus
  • Neuronal circuit necessary for formation of specific memory trace in retrosplenial cortex.


Selected publications

Łukasiewicz K., Robacha M, Bożycki, Ł, Radwańska K, Czajkowski, R (2016) Simultaneous two-photon in vivo imaging of synaptic inputs and postsynaptic targets in the mouse retrosplenial cortex. J. Vis. Exp. 109 doi: 10.3791/53802


Czajkowski R, Balaji J, Wiltgen B, Rogerson T, Guzman Karlsson M, Barth AL, Trachtenberg JT, Silva AJ (2014) Encoding and storage of spatial information in the retrosplenial cortex. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 111:8661-6.


Czajkowski R, Sugar J, Zhang SJ, Couey JJ, Ye J, Witter MP (2013) Superficially projecting principal neurons in layer V of medial entorhinal cortex in the rat receive excitatory retrosplenial input. J. Neurosci. 33:15779-92.


Couey JJ, Witoelar A, Zhang SJ, Zheng K, Ye J, Dunn B, Czajkowski R, Moser MB, Moser EI, Roudi Y, Witter MP. (2013) Recurrent inhibitory circuitry as a mechanism for grid formation. Nat. Neurosci. 16:318-24.