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Evidence for grid cells in a human memory network


Christian Doeller

Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience & Institute of Neurology, UCL, UK


The existence of grid cells in humans and their distribution throughout the brain are unknown. We recorded whole-brain functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data while human participants navigated within a virtual reality arena, mimicking the foraging task in rodents. Consistent with the firing of a coherently-oriented population of grid cells, we observed fMRI activation and adaptation showing a speed-modulated six-fold rotational symmetry in running direction. The signal was found in a network of entorhinal/subicular, posterior and medial parietal, lateral temporal and medial prefrontal areas. The effect was strongest in right entorhinal cortex and the coherence of the directional signal across entorhinal cortex correlated with spatial memory performance. Our results provide evidence for grid-cell-like representations in humans, and implicate a specific type of neural representation in a network of regions which supports spatial cognition and also autobiographical memory.