An isomorphic mapping hypothesis of the grid representation

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Dec 23;369(1635):20120521. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0521. Print 2014 Feb 5.


We introduce a grid cell microcircuit hypothesis. We propose the 'grid in the world' (evident in grid cell discharges) is generated by a 'grid in the cortex'. This cortical grid is formed by patches of calbindin-positive pyramidal neurons in layer 2 of medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). Our isomorphic mapping hypothesis assumes three types of isomorphism: (i) metric correspondence of neural space (the two-dimensional cortical sheet) and the external two-dimensional space within patches; (ii) isomorphism between cellular connectivity matrix and firing field; (iii) isomorphism between single cell and population activity. Each patch is a grid cell lattice arranged in a two-dimensional map of space with a neural : external scale of approximately 1 : 2000 in the dorsal part of rat MEC. The lattice behaves like an excitable medium with neighbouring grid cells exciting each other. Spatial scale is implemented as an intrinsic scaling factor for neural propagation speed. This factor varies along the dorsoventral cortical axis. A connectivity scheme of the grid system is described. Head direction input specifies the direction of activity propagation. We extend the theory to neurons between grid patches and predict a rare discharge pattern (inverted grid cells) and the relative location and proportion of grid cells and spatial band cells.

Keywords: attractor model; border cell; grid cell; interference model; spatial representation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Calbindins / physiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Entorhinal Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Space Perception / physiology*


  • Calbindins