Functional correlates of the lateral and medial entorhinal cortex: objects, path integration and local-global reference frames

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2013 Dec 23;369(1635):20130369. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0369. Print 2014 Feb 5.


The hippocampus receives its major cortical input from the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) and the lateral entorhinal cortex (LEC). It is commonly believed that the MEC provides spatial input to the hippocampus, whereas the LEC provides non-spatial input. We review new data which suggest that this simple dichotomy between 'where' versus 'what' needs revision. We propose a refinement of this model, which is more complex than the simple spatial-non-spatial dichotomy. MEC is proposed to be involved in path integration computations based on a global frame of reference, primarily using internally generated, self-motion cues and external input about environmental boundaries and scenes; it provides the hippocampus with a coordinate system that underlies the spatial context of an experience. LEC is proposed to process information about individual items and locations based on a local frame of reference, primarily using external sensory input; it provides the hippocampus with information about the content of an experience.

Keywords: episodic memory; lateral entorhinal cortex; medial entorhinal cortex; memory; path integration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entorhinal Cortex / anatomy & histology*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Hippocampus / anatomy & histology*
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Neural Pathways / anatomy & histology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Spatial Behavior / physiology*