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Can we study 3D grid codes non-invasively in the human brain? Methodological considerations and fMRI findings

Kim, M; Maguire, EA; (2019) Can we study 3D grid codes non-invasively in the human brain? Methodological considerations and fMRI findings. NeuroImage , 186 pp. 667-678. 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.041. Green open access

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Abstract

Recent human functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and animal electrophysiology studies suggest that grid cells in entorhinal cortex are an efficient neural mechanism for encoding knowledge about the world, not only for spatial location but also for more abstract cognitive information. The world, be it physical or abstract, is often high-dimensional, but grid cells have been mainly studied on a simple two-dimensional (2D) plane. Recent theoretical studies have proposed how grid cells encode three-dimensional (3D) physical space, but it is unknown whether grid codes can be examined non-invasively in humans. Here, we investigated whether it was feasible to test different 3D grid models using fMRI based on the direction-modulated property of grid signals. In doing so, we developed interactive software to help researchers visualize 3D grid fields and predict grid activity in 3D as a function of movement directions. We found that a direction-modulated grid analysis was sensitive to one type of 3D grid model - a face-centred cubic (FCC) lattice model. As a proof of concept, we searched for 3D grid-like signals in human entorhinal cortex using a novel 3D virtual reality paradigm and a new fMRI analysis method. We found that signals in the left entorhinal cortex were explained by the FCC model. This is preliminary evidence for 3D grid codes in the human brain, notwithstanding the inherent methodological limitations of fMRI. We believe that our findings and software serve as a useful initial stepping-stone for studying grid cells in realistic 3D worlds and also, potentially, for interrogating abstract high-dimensional cognitive processes.

Type: Article
Title: Can we study 3D grid codes non-invasively in the human brain? Methodological considerations and fMRI findings
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.041
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2018.11.041
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: 3D, Entorhinal cortex, Grid cell, Virtual navigation, fMRI
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Imaging Neuroscience
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Life Sciences > Div of Biosciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10063305
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