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      Framing of grid cells within and beyond navigation boundaries

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          Grid cells represent an ideal candidate to investigate the allocentric determinants of the brain’s cognitive map. Most studies of grid cells emphasized the roles of geometric boundaries within the navigational range of the animal. Behaviors such as novel route-taking between local environments indicate the presence of additional inputs from remote cues beyond the navigational borders. To investigate these influences, we recorded grid cells as rats explored an open-field platform in a room with salient, remote cues. The platform was rotated or translated relative to the room frame of reference. Although the local, geometric frame of reference often exerted the strongest control over the grids, the remote cues demonstrated a consistent, sometimes dominant, countervailing influence. Thus, grid cells are controlled by both local geometric boundaries and remote spatial cues, consistent with prior studies of hippocampal place cells and providing a rich representational repertoire to support complex navigational (and perhaps mnemonic) processes.


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          Most cited references 87

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           J. ZAR,  JH Zar,  J Zar (1999)
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            Microstructure of a spatial map in the entorhinal cortex.

            The ability to find one's way depends on neural algorithms that integrate information about place, distance and direction, but the implementation of these operations in cortical microcircuits is poorly understood. Here we show that the dorsocaudal medial entorhinal cortex (dMEC) contains a directionally oriented, topographically organized neural map of the spatial environment. Its key unit is the 'grid cell', which is activated whenever the animal's position coincides with any vertex of a regular grid of equilateral triangles spanning the surface of the environment. Grids of neighbouring cells share a common orientation and spacing, but their vertex locations (their phases) differ. The spacing and size of individual fields increase from dorsal to ventral dMEC. The map is anchored to external landmarks, but persists in their absence, suggesting that grid cells may be part of a generalized, path-integration-based map of the spatial environment.
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              Path integration and the neural basis of the 'cognitive map'.

              The hippocampal formation can encode relative spatial location, without reference to external cues, by the integration of linear and angular self-motion (path integration). Theoretical studies, in conjunction with recent empirical discoveries, suggest that the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) might perform some of the essential underlying computations by means of a unique, periodic synaptic matrix that could be self-organized in early development through a simple, symmetry-breaking operation. The scale at which space is represented increases systematically along the dorsoventral axis in both the hippocampus and the MEC, apparently because of systematic variation in the gain of a movement-speed signal. Convergence of spatially periodic input at multiple scales, from so-called grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, might result in non-periodic spatial firing patterns (place fields) in the hippocampus.

                Author and article information

                Role: Reviewing editor
                eLife Sciences Publications, Ltd
                13 January 2017
                : 6
                [1 ]Zanvyl Krieger Mind/Brain Institute, Johns Hopkins University , Baltimore, United States
                [2 ]deptSolomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience , Johns Hopkins University , Baltimore, United States
                National Centre for Biological Sciences , India
                National Centre for Biological Sciences , India
                Author notes
                © 2017, Savelli et al

                This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

                Funded by: FundRef, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke;
                Award ID: R01 NS039456
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef, Human Frontier Science Program;
                Award ID: LT00683/2006-C
                Award Recipient :
                Funded by: FundRef, National Institute of Mental Health;
                Award ID: R01 MH079511
                Award Recipient :
                The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                Grid-cell maps can be aligned to both local and remote reference frames, suggesting that they provide a metric for space beyond the navigationally accessible boundaries of the local environment.

                Life sciences

                rat, grid cell, hippocampal formation, cognitive map, spatial orientation, navigation


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