Edvard Moser

Norwegian University of Science and Technology

Grid Cells and Neural Maps for Space

Monday 24 March 2014

Location: Oxford Martin School, Old Indian Institute, 34 Broad Street, Oxford

Abstract: The medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) is part of the brain’s system for representing self-location. The metric of this representation is provided by grid cells with spatial firing fields that tile environments in a periodic hexagonal pattern. Grid cells cluster into a small number of layer-spanning, anatomically overlapping but functionally independent, modules with distinct scale and orientation. The hexagonal activity patterns of grid cells may emerge as stable solutions during competitive network interactions in recurrent inhibitory circuits of the MEC, with geometric boundaries used to anchor grid cells optimally to the environment. Inputs from grid cells and other cell types determine properties of place cells in the hippocampus: CA1 receives input from a variety of sources, including border and head direction cells in the MEC, odour-responsive cells in the lateral entorhinal cortex, and decision-correlated cells in the medial prefrontal cortex. Collectively these inputs may enable high-capacity memory in ensembles of place cells in the hippocampus.

Biography: Edvard Moser is Founding Director of The Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience and Centre for the Biology of Memory at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. He and his long-term collaborator May-Britt Moser discovered grid cells in the entorhinal cortex, providing the first clue to how spatial location and spatial memory are computed in the brain. The Mosers have received numerous awards for their work, most recently the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize of Columbia University.