Grid cells in the entorhinal cortex allow for the precise decoding of position in space. Along with potentially playing an important role in navigation, grid cells have recently been hypothesized to make a general contribution to mental operations. A prerequisite for this hypothesis is that grid cell activity does not critically depend on physical movement. Here, we show that movement of covert attention, without any physical movement, also elicits spatial receptive fields with a triangular tiling of space. In monkeys trained to maintain central fixation while covertly attending to a stimulus moving in the periphery we identified a significant population (20/141, 14% neurons at a FDR <5%) of entorhinal cells with spatially structured receptive fields. This contrasts with recordings obtained in the hippocampus, where grid-like representations were not observed. Our results provide evidence that neurons in macaque entorhinal cortex do not rely on physical movement.
Keywords: entorhinal cortex; grid cells; neuroscience; rhesus macaque; spatial attention.
© 2018, Wilming et al.