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Elife. 2018 Oct 22;7. pii: e38169. doi: 10.7554/eLife.38169.

Environmental deformations dynamically shift the grid cell spatial metric.

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Department of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, United States.
Department of Physics, University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, United States.


In familiar environments, the firing fields of entorhinal grid cells form regular triangular lattices. However, when the geometric shape of the environment is deformed, these time-averaged grid patterns are distorted in a grid scale-dependent and local manner. We hypothesized that this distortion in part reflects dynamic anchoring of the grid code to displaced boundaries, possibly through border cell-grid cell interactions. To test this hypothesis, we first reanalyzed two existing rodent grid rescaling datasets to identify previously unrecognized boundary-tethered shifts in grid phase that contribute to the appearance of rescaling. We then demonstrated in a computational model that boundary-tethered phase shifts, as well as scale-dependent and local distortions of the time-averaged grid pattern, could emerge from border-grid interactions without altering inherent grid scale. Together, these results demonstrate that environmental deformations induce history-dependent shifts in grid phase, and implicate border-grid interactions as a potential mechanism underlying these dynamics.


computational model; deformation; entorhinal cortex; grid cell; hippocampus; neuroscience; place cell; rat

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