Field repetition and local mapping in the hippocampus and the medial entorhinal cortex

Journal of Neurophysiology
Roddy M GrievesPaul A Dudchenko

Abstract

Hippocampal place cells support spatial cognition and are thought to form the neural substrate of a global "cognitive map." A widely held view is that parts of the hippocampus also underlie the ability to separate patterns or to provide different neural codes for distinct environments. However, a number of studies have shown that in environments composed of multiple, repeating compartments, place cells and other spatially modulated neurons show the same activity in each local area. This repetition of firing fields may reflect pattern completion and may make it difficult for animals to distinguish similar local environments. In this review we 1) highlight some of the navigation difficulties encountered by humans in repetitive environments, 2) summarize literature demonstrating that place and grid cells represent local and not global space, and 3) attempt to explain the origin of these phenomena. We argue that the repetition of firing fields can be a useful tool for understanding the relationship between grid cells in the entorhinal cortex and place cells in the hippocampus, the spatial inputs shared by these cells, and the propagation of spatially related signals through these structures.

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