Dr. Andrew Maurer & colleagues publish in March 2016 Frontiers in Neural Circuits
The Art of Grid Fields: Geometry of Neuronal Time. Shilnikov AL, Maurer AP. Front Neural Circuits 2016; 10:12.
The discovery of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex has both elucidated our understanding of spatial representations in the brain, and germinated a large number of theoretical models regarding the mechanisms of these cells’ striking spatial firing characteristics. These models cross multiple neurobiological levels that include intrinsic membrane resonance, dendritic integration, after hyperpolarization characteristics and attractor dynamics. Despite the breadth of the models, to our knowledge, parallels can be drawn between grid fields and other temporal dynamics observed in nature, much of which was described by Art Winfree and colleagues long before the initial description of grid fields. Using theoretical and mathematical investigations of oscillators, in a wide array of mediums far from the neurobiology of grid cells, Art Winfree has provided a substantial amount of research with significant and profound similarities. These theories provide specific inferences into the biological mechanisms and extraordinary resemblances across phenomenon. Therefore, this manuscript provides a novel interpretation on the phenomenon of grid fields, from the perspective of coupled oscillators, postulating that grid fields are the spatial representation of phase resetting curves in the brain. In contrast to prior models of gird cells, the current manuscript provides a sketch by which a small network of neurons, each with oscillatory components can operate to form grid cells, perhaps providing a unique hybrid between the competing attractor neural network and oscillatory interference models. The intention of this new interpretation of the data is to encourage novel testable hypotheses.
KEYWORDS: grid cells; navigation; oscillators; phase resetting; theta