Path integration and the neural basis of the 'cognitive map'

  title={Path integration and the neural basis of the 'cognitive map'},
  author={Bruce L. McNaughton and Francesco Paolo Battaglia and Ole Jensen and Edvard I. Moser and May-Britt Moser},
  journal={Nature Reviews Neuroscience},
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… 

Models of spatial representation in the medial entorhinal cortex

A single-cell model that generates grid-like activity solely form spatially-irregular inputs, spike-rate adaptation, and Hebbian synaptic plasticity is proposed, which achieves a higher level of biological realism, gives unprecedented analytical insights, and generates novel experimental predictions.

Spatial representation in the hippocampal formation: a history

It is now possible to investigate how specialized cell types of hippocampal–entorhinal systems work together, and spatial mapping may become one of the first cognitive functions to be understood in mechanistic detail.

Robust path integration in the entorhinal grid cell system with hippocampal feed-back

This paper sets up the model of a mobile agent equipped with the entorhinal representation of idiothetic and allothetic information and simulated its place learning in a virtual environment, and shows that the continuous feed-back from the integrated hippocampal place representation is able to stabilize the grid cell code.

Differential Recruitment of the Hippocampus, Medial Prefrontal Cortex, and the Human Motion Complex during Path Integration in Humans

The present study provides the first evidence that visual path integration is related to the dynamic interplay of self-motion processing in hMT+, higher-level spatial processes in the hippocampus, and spatial working memory in medial prefrontal cortex.

Mouse entorhinal cortex encodes a diverse repertoire of self-motion signals

This work identifies multiple self-motion signals, related to the position and velocity of the head and eyes, encoded by neurons in a key node of the navigation circuitry of mice, the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC).

Angular and linear speed cells in the parahippocampal circuits

Insight is offered as to how linear/angular speed – derivative in time of position/direction – may allow the updating of spatial representations, possibly uncovering a generalised algorithm to update any representation.

Microcircuits for spatial coding in the medial entorhinal cortex

Recent investigations of intrinsic MEC connectivity have started to describe and quantify both excitatory and inhibitory wiring in the superficial layers of the MEC, and it appears that these layers contain robust recurrent connectivity that could sustain the attractor dynamics posited to underlie grid-pattern formation.

The Role of Path Integration on Neural Activity in Hippocampus and Medial Entorhinal Cortex

It was determined that upon the initial appearance of place fields in a novel environment, place cells fired in all directions, supporting the hypothesis that the path integration is the primary determinant of place specificity.


It appears that these layers of intrinsic MEC connectivity contain robust recurrent connectivity that could sustain the attractor dynamics posited to underlie grid pattern formation and pave the way to a deeper understanding of the mechanisms underlying spatial navigation and memory.

Spatial coding and attractor dynamics of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex

  • Y. Burak
  • Biology, Psychology
    Current Opinion in Neurobiology
  • 2014



Deciphering the hippocampal polyglot: the hippocampus as a path integration system.

A hypothesis of how the path integration system may operate at the neuronal level is proposed, and it appears that viewpoint-specific visual information becomes secondarily bound to this structure by associative learning.

Self‐motion and the origin of differential spatial scaling along the septo‐temporal axis of the hippocampus

The hypothesis that the gain of the self‐motion signal may vary systematically along the septo‐temporal axis of the hippocampus is tested.

Path Integration and Cognitive Mapping in a Continuous Attractor Neural Network Model

The model provides an explanation for a number of hitherto perplexing observations on hippocampal place fields, including doubling, vanishing, reshaping in distorted environments, acquiring directionality in a two-goal shuttling task, rapid formation in a novel environment, and slow rotation after disorientation.

Dead Reckoning, Landmark Learning, and the Sense of Direction: A Neurophysiological and Computational Hypothesis

A hypothesis is proposed in which the integration process is replaced by a linear associative mapping, an operation that is at least theoretically easy to implement with neurons, and visual landmarks become incorporated into the directional system, enabling the correction of cumulative error and the computation of novel, optimal trajectories between locations.

A Spin Glass Model of Path Integration in Rat Medial Entorhinal Cortex

A symmetric, locally connected neural network, or spin glass model, that spontaneously produces a hexagonal grid of activity bumps on a two-dimensional sheet of units is described that supports the conjecture that an attractor network in dMEC may be the source of path integration information afferent to hippocampus.

Self-Motion and the Hippocampal Spatial Metric

The spatial scale over which the hippocampal population vector is updated appears to be derived primarily from the gain of a self-motion velocity signal with approximately equal components derived from ambulation, vestibular, and optic-flow signals.

A Controlled Attractor Network Model of Path Integration in the Rat

The network derived incorporates representation and updating of position into a single layer of neurons, eliminating the need for a large external control population, and without making use of multiplicative synapses, resulting in an efficient and biologically plausible control mechanism.

Dentate Gyrus and CA1 Ensemble Activity during Spatial Reference Frame Shifts in the Presence and Absence of Visual Input

The similarity between reference frame transitions in the dentate gyrus and the CA1 region suggests that this process probably occurs before CA3, possibly in the entorhinal cortex or subiculum, and suggests a competitive interaction between an internal dynamic process and external sensory cues.

Place cells, spatial maps and the population code for memory

Spatial Representation in the Entorhinal Cortex

Precise positional modulation was not observed more ventromedially in the entorhinal cortex or upstream in the postrhinal cortex, suggesting that sensory input is transformed into durable allocentric spatial representations internally in the dorsocaudal medial entorHinal cortex.