Spatial Orientation

Previously: sensorimotor adaptation & vestibular pathologies team

Spa­tial Ori­en­ta­tion Team, jan­u­ary 2018

Our team works in the field of mul­ti­sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and sen­so­ri­mo­tor trans­for­ma­tions under­ly­ing bal­ance and 3D ori­en­ta­tion. We address ques­tions on spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion, a sys­tem-lev­el top­ic, by study­ing its under­ly­ing func­tion­al and struc­tur­al deter­mi­nants in ani­mal mod­els, as well as by ana­lyz­ing human behav­ior on earth and in space. We rely on a wide range of exper­i­men­tal approach­es, using both ani­mal and humans, and we care­ful­ly tie togeth­er these dif­fer­ent lev­els of inves­ti­ga­tion in an over­reach­ing frame­work. This mul­ti-lay­ered approach and com­bi­na­tion of exper­tise ded­i­cat­ed to func­tion­al stud­ies con­sti­tute the team sin­gu­lar­i­ty at both the nation­al and inter­na­tion­al level.
Basic under­stand­ing gained in exper­i­ments per­formed both on ground and in weight­less­ness will be applied to bet­ter diag­nose and treat dis­eases, and con­verse­ly, patho­log­i­cal dys­func­tion may allow new insight into healthy brain function.

Our work is sup­port­ed by the French spa­tial agency (CNES), ANR, CNRS & Uni­ver­sité Paris Descartes.

We wel­come stu­dents or col­lab­o­ra­tors who share our goals and enthu­si­asm for the fol­low­ing themes of research:

Theme 1 : Hap­tic exper­i­ment per­formed in absence of grav­i­ty dur­ing par­a­bol­ic flight.

Research Themes

  1. Mul­ti­sen­so­ry inte­gra­tion, Ori­en­ta­tion and Spa­tial Perception
    • Visuo-hap­tic inte­gra­tion and spa­tial perception.
    • Visuo-vestibu­lar inter­ac­tions for spa­tial orientation.
    • Influ­ence of grav­i­ty on mul­ti­sen­so­ry inte­gra­tion: weight­less­ness and hyper­grav­i­ty experiments.
  2. Cor­ti­cal and sub­cor­ti­cal cir­cuits for spa­tial orientation

    Theme 2: Dis­sect­ing the func­tion­al con­nec­tiv­i­ty in the head direc­tion sys­tem. A, affer­ent and pro­jec­tion spe­cif­ic label­ing in the pre­subicu­lum. B, patch clamp record­ing, light evoked synap­tic cur­rent (left) and action poten­tials (right). (From LW Huang, M2 thesis.)

    • Role of inhi­bi­tion in the thal­a­mo-pre­subic­u­lar pro­cess­ing of head direc­tion signals.
    • head direc­tion cir­cuit archi­tec­ture and spe­cif­ic role of neu­ronal subpopulations.
    • visuo-vestibu­lar and spino-vestibu­lar inter­ac­tions; cir­cuits and processing.
  3. vestibu­lar, ocu­lo­mo­tor & motor pathologies
    • Motor con­trol for man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty in humans & ani­mal models
    • Cel­lu­lar deter­mi­nants of vestibu­lar com­pen­sa­tion & motion sickness.
    • Mouse mod­el of Myelin-relat­ed deficits & idio­path­ic nystagmus.


  • INRIA Rhônes-Alpes (Greno­ble; France).
  • French and Euro­pean space agencies.
  • Tec­na­lia Health Tech­nolo­gies (San Sebas­t­ian; Spain).
  • Bor­deaux Uni­ver­si­ty (France)
  • Uni­ver­si­ty at Buf­fa­lo (Buf­fa­lo; US).

Open for submissions!

Team leaders


Future member (2019)

[alum­ni firstname=“Marc” name=“Maier” text=“PR Univ Paris Diderot,team leader of Man­u­al dex­ter­i­ty in health and disease
marc.maier@parisdescartes.fr, 01 42 86 43 70, room H470” picture=“https://neurophys.biomedicale.parisdescartes.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/MarcMaier.jpg”]

Former members

See the list of for­mer members

Recent Publications

2018 :

2017 :

2016 :

2015 :

2014 :

2013 :

2012 :

2011 :

Books, chapters and patents

Keywords :

  • Spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion; Head direc­tion; Micro­grav­i­ty; Gaze and pos­ture sta­bi­liza­tion; Opti­mal con­trol; Func­tion­al connectivity;
  • Mul­ti­sen­so­ry; Visu­al; Vestibu­lar; Pro­pri­o­cep­tion; Behav­iour; Sen­so­ri­mo­tor; Reflexes
  • Pre­subicu­lum; Post­subicu­lum; Brain­stem; Neu­rons; Interneu­rons; Excitabil­i­ty; Synap­tic; Intrin­sic; Plasticity
  • Vir­tu­al real­i­ty; Elec­tro­phys­i­ol­o­gy; Patch-Clamp; Immuno-his­to­chem­istry; Trac­ing; Neu­ronal mor­phol­o­gy; Modelization

Cod­ing for Spa­tial Ori­en­ta­tion in Humans and Ani­mals: Behav­ior, Cir­cuits and Neurons