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Remembered reward locations restructure entorhinal spatial maps

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Science  29 Mar 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6434, pp. 1447-1452
DOI: 10.1126/science.aav5297

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Reward and the map in the brain

Recent findings suggest a more complex role of grid cells in the brain than simply coding for space. The grid map in the entorhinal cortex, which is responsible for encoding spatial information, is not as rigid as originally thought and can be distorted by environmental modifications (see the Perspective by Quian Quiroga). Butler et al. compared grid cell coding during a free-foraging task and a spatial memory task in rats. They discovered that entorhinal spatial maps restructure to incorporate the location of a learned reward. Boccara et al. tested the influence of behaviorally relevant information on the cognitive map that emerges from grid cell firing in the rat medial entorhinal cortex. They found that grid cells participate in neural coding of the goal locality, not the whole environment.

Science, this issue p. 1447, p. 1443; see also p. 1388

Abstract

Ethologically relevant navigational strategies often incorporate remembered reward locations. Although neurons in the medial entorhinal cortex provide a maplike representation of the external spatial world, whether this map integrates information regarding learned reward locations remains unknown. We compared entorhinal coding in rats during a free-foraging task and a spatial memory task. Entorhinal spatial maps restructured to incorporate a learned reward location, which in turn improved positional decoding near this location. This finding indicates that different navigational strategies drive the emergence of discrete entorhinal maps of space and points to a role for entorhinal codes in a diverse range of navigational behaviors.

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