Local transformations of the hippocampal cognitive map.

02 May 2018

Grid cells are neurons active in multiple fields arranged in a hexagonal lattice and are thought to represent the "universal metric for space." However, they become nonhomogeneously distorted in polarized enclosures, which challenges this view. We found that local changes to the configuration of the enclosure induce individual grid fields to shift in a manner inversely related to their distance from the reconfigured boundary. The grid remained primarily anchored to the unchanged stable walls and showed a nonuniform rescaling. Shifts in simultaneously recorded colocalized grid fields were strongly correlated, which suggests that the readout of the animal's position might still be intact. Similar field shifts were also observed in place and boundary cells-albeit of greater magnitude and more pronounced closer to the reconfigured boundary-which suggests that there is no simple one-to-one relationship between these three different cell types.