A Map-like Micro-Organization of Grid Cells in the Medial Entorhinal Cortex

Cell. 2018 Oct 18;175(3):736-750.e30. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.066. Epub 2018 Sep 27.


How the topography of neural circuits relates to their function remains unclear. Although topographic maps exist for sensory and motor variables, they are rarely observed for cognitive variables. Using calcium imaging during virtual navigation, we investigated the relationship between the anatomical organization and functional properties of grid cells, which represent a cognitive code for location during navigation. We found a substantial degree of grid cell micro-organization in mouse medial entorhinal cortex: grid cells and modules all clustered anatomically. Within a module, the layout of grid cells was a noisy two-dimensional lattice in which the anatomical distribution of grid cells largely matched their spatial tuning phases. This micro-arrangement of phases demonstrates the existence of a topographical map encoding a cognitive variable in rodents. It contributes to a foundation for evaluating circuit models of the grid cell network and is consistent with continuous attractor models as the mechanism of grid formation.

Keywords: calcium imaging; continuous attractor network models; grid cell; grid module; grid phase; medial entorhinal cortex; microprism; pyramidal cell; stellate cell; virtual reality.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Entorhinal Cortex / cytology*
  • Entorhinal Cortex / physiology
  • Grid Cells / cytology*
  • Grid Cells / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Net