Skip to main content

Abstract knowledge gets concrete in the hippocampus


Nieh, Schottdorf, and colleagues (Nature, 595, 80-84, 2021) recently showed that hippocampal neurons of mice form a low-dimensional representation that integrates concrete and abstract task information. The reported findings confirm a long-standing prediction regarding the nature of the cognitive map and potentially offer a tantalizing glimpse of the cognitive map itself.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Johnson, A., Fenton, A. A., Kentros, C. & Redish, A. D. Looking for cognition in the structure within the noise. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 13, 55–64 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. Knudsen, E. B. & Wallis, J. D. Hippocampal neurons construct a map of an abstract value space. Cell(2021)

  3. Nieh, E. H., Schottdorf, M., Freeman, N. W., Low, R. J., Lewallen, S., Koay, S. A., et al. Geometry of abstract learned knowledge in the hippocampus. Nature 595, 80–84 (2021).

  4. Schapiro, A. C., Rogers, T. T., Cordova, N. I., Turk-Browne, N. B. & Botvinick, M. M. Neural representations of events arise from temporal community structure. Nature Neuroscience 16, 486–492 (2013).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Tolman EC. Cognitive maps in rats and men. American Psychological Association; 1948

    Book  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information



Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ehren L. Newman.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Newman, E.L. Abstract knowledge gets concrete in the hippocampus. Learn Behav 49, 345–346 (2021).

Download citation


  • Acquisition
  • Concept learning