The parallel map theory is an evolutionary model of navigation and the evolution of the hippocampus in vertebrates (Jacobs & Schenk, 2003). Here Edward Tolman’s cognitive map is an integration of parallel spatial representations of space, the bearing and the sketch maps, constructed by complementary hippocampal subfields. This creates a flexible and robust cognitive structure for orientation in mammals and we have extended this analysis to birds and other vertebrates (Jacobs & Menzel, 2014). Recently, I have re-interpreted the parallel map theory of hippocampal function in light of olfactory navigation, proposing that the main function of the olfactory system of vertebrates is to form the foundation of the cognitive map, with a robust and flexible parallel map architecture (Jacobs, 2012).


Jacobs, L. F., & Menzel, R. (2014) Navigation outside the box: what the lab can learn from the field and what the field can learn from the lab. Movement Ecology 2, 3. doi 10.1186/10.1186/2051-3933-2-3.

Bettis, T. J. , & Jacobs, L. F. (2013). Sex differences in memory for landmark arrays in C57BL/J6 mice. Animal Cognition, 16(6), 873–882

Waismeyer, A. S. , & Jacobs, L. F. (2013). The emergence of flexible spatial strategies in young children. Developmental Psychology, 49(2), 232–242.

Jacobs, L. F. (2012). From chemotaxis to the cognitive map: the function of olfaction. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109, 10693–10700.

Wiener, J., Shettleworth, S., Bingman, V.P., Cheng, K., Healy, S., Jacobs, L.F., Jeffery, K.J., Mallot, H.A., Menzel, R., and Newcombe, N.S. (2011). Animal Navigation – A Synthesis. In Animal Thinking: Contemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition, R. Menzel, and J. Fischer, eds. (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press).

Bettis, T.J. , and Jacobs, L.F. (2009). Sex-specific strategies in spatial orientation in C57BL/6J mice. Behavioural Processes 82, 249-255

Jacobs, L.F. (2009). The role of social selection in the evolution of hippocampal specialization. In: Cognitive Biology: Evolutionary and Developmental Perspectives on Mind, Brain and Behavior, L. Tomassi, L. Nadel, and M. Peterson, eds. (Cambridge, MA, MIT Press)

Waisman, A.S. , and Jacobs, L.F. (2008). Flexibility of cue use in the fox squirrel (Sciurus niger). Animal Cognition 11, 625-636.

Barkley, C.L. , and Jacobs, L.F. (2007). Sex and species differences in spatial memory in food-storing kangaroo rats. Animal Behaviour 73, 321-329.

Jacobs, L.F. (2006). From movement to transitivity:  the role of hippocampal parallel maps in configural learning. Reviews in Neuroscience 17, 99-109.

Jacobs, L.F., and Schenk, F. (2003). Unpacking the cognitive map:  the parallel map theory of hippocampal function. Psychological Review 110, 285-315.

Lavenex, P. , Steele, M.A., and Jacobs, L.F. (2000). The seasonal pattern of cell proliferation and neuron number in the dentate gyrus of wild adult eastern grey squirrels. European Journal of Neuroscience 12, 643-648.

Lavenex, P., Steele, M.A., and Jacobs, L.F. (2000). Sex differences, but no seasonal variations in the hippocampus of food-caching squirrels: A stereological study. Journal of Comparative Neurology 425, 152-166.

Jacobs, L.F. (2000). Sexual differentiation and cognitive function. In: Gender and Society:  the 1995 Herbert Spencer Lectures, S. Iversen, ed. (Oxford, UK, Oxford University Press).

Jacobs, L.F. (1996). Sexual selection and the brain. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 11, 82-86.

Jacobs, L.F. (1996). The economy of winter: Phenotypic plasticity in behavior and brain structure. Biological Bulletin 191, 92-100.

Jacobs, L.F. (1995). The ecology of spatial cognition:  adaptive patterns of hippocampal size and space use in wild rodents. In: Behavioural Brain Research in Naturalistic and Semi-Naturalistic Settings, E. Alleva, A. Fasolo, H.-P. Lipp, L. Nadel and L. Ricceri, eds. (Dordrecht, Kluwer Academic Publishers), pp. 301-322

Jacobs, L.F., and Spencer, W.D. (1994). Natural space-use patterns and hippocampal size in kangaroo rats. Brain Behavior and Evolution 44, 125-132.

Sherry, D.F., Jacobs, L.F., and Gaulin, S.J.C. (1992). Adaptive specialization of the hippocampus. Trends in Neurosciences 15, 298-303.

Daly, M., Wilson, M.I., Behrends, P.R., and Jacobs, L.F. (1992). Sexually differentiated effects of radiotransmitters on predation risk and behaviour in kangaroo rats, Dipodomys merriami. Canadian Journal of Zoology 70, 1851-1855.

Jacobs, L.F., Gaulin, S.J.C., Sherry, D.F., and Hoffman, G.E. (1990). Evolution of spatial cognition:  Sex-specific patterns of spatial behavior predict hippocampal size. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 87, 6349-6352.