The Dome: A virtual reality apparatus for freely locomoting rodents

Manu S. Madhav, Ravikrishnan P. Jayakumar, Shahin G. Lashkari, Francesco Savelli, Hugh T. Blair, James J. Knierim, Noah J. Cowan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cognitive map in the hippocampal formation of rodents and other mammals integrates multiple classes of sensory and motor information into a coherent representation of space. Here, we describe the Dome, a virtual reality apparatus for freely locomoting rats, designed to examine the relative contributions of various spatial inputs to an animal's spatial representation. The Dome was designed to preserve the range of spatial inputs typically available to an animal in free, untethered locomotion while providing the ability to perturb specific sensory cues. We present the design rationale and corresponding specifications of the Dome, along with a variety of engineering and biological analyses to validate the efficacy of the Dome as an experimental tool to examine the interaction between visual information and path integration in place cells in rodents.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number109336
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
StatePublished - Feb 15 2022


  • Cognitive map
  • Control theory
  • Multisensory integration
  • Virtual reality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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