Grid cells generate an analog error-correcting code for singularly precise neural computation

Nat Neurosci. 2011 Sep 11;14(10):1330-7. doi: 10.1038/nn.2901.


Entorhinal grid cells in mammals fire as a function of animal location, with spatially periodic response patterns. This nonlocal periodic representation of location, a local variable, is unlike other neural codes. There is no theoretical explanation for why such a code should exist. We examined how accurately the grid code with noisy neurons allows an ideal observer to estimate location and found this code to be a previously unknown type of population code with unprecedented robustness to noise. In particular, the representational accuracy attained by grid cells over the coding range was in a qualitatively different class from what is possible with observed sensory and motor population codes. We found that a simple neural network can effectively correct the grid code. To the best of our knowledge, these results are the first demonstration that the brain contains, and may exploit, powerful error-correcting codes for analog variables.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Networks, Computer*
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*