Grid cells form a global representation of connected environments

Carpenter, F., Manson, D., Jeffery, K. , Burgess, N. and Barry, C. (2015) Grid cells form a global representation of connected environments. Current Biology, 25(9), pp. 1176-1182. (doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.02.037) (PMID:25913404) (PMCID:PMC4425461)

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The firing patterns of grid cells in medial entorhinal cortex (mEC) and associated brain areas form triangular arrays that tessellate the environment [1, 2] and maintain constant spatial offsets to each other between environments [3, 4]. These cells are thought to provide an efficient metric for navigation in large-scale space [5, 6, 7, 8]. However, an accurate and universal metric requires grid cell firing patterns to uniformly cover the space to be navigated, in contrast to recent demonstrations that environmental features such as boundaries can distort [9, 10, 11] and fragment [12] grid patterns. To establish whether grid firing is determined by local environmental cues, or provides a coherent global representation, we recorded mEC grid cells in rats foraging in an environment containing two perceptually identical compartments connected via a corridor. During initial exposures to the multicompartment environment, grid firing patterns were dominated by local environmental cues, replicating between the two compartments. However, with prolonged experience, grid cell firing patterns formed a single, continuous representation that spanned both compartments. Thus, we provide the first evidence that in a complex environment, grid cell firing can form the coherent global pattern necessary for them to act as a metric capable of supporting large-scale spatial navigation.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jeffery, Professor Kate
Authors: Carpenter, F., Manson, D., Jeffery, K., Burgess, N., and Barry, C.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
Journal Name:Current Biology
Publisher:Elsevier (Cell Press)
ISSN (Online):1879-0445
Published Online:23 April 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2015 The Authors
First Published:First published in Current Biology 25(9): 1176-1182
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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