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Grid scale drives the scale and long-term stability of place maps.

ABSTRACT

Medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) grid cells fire at regular spatial intervals and project to the hippocampus, where place cells are active in spatially restricted locations. One feature of the grid population is the increase in grid spatial scale along the dorsal-ventral MEC axis. However, the difficulty in perturbing grid scale without impacting the properties of other functionally defined MEC cell types has obscured how grid scale influences hippocampal coding and spatial memory. Here we use a targeted viral approach to knock out HCN1 channels selectively in MEC, causing the grid scale to expand while leaving other MEC spatial and velocity signals intact. Grid scale expansion resulted in place scale expansion in fields located far from environmental boundaries, reduced long-term place field stability and impaired spatial learning. These observations, combined with simulations of a grid-to-place cell model and position decoding of place cells, illuminate how grid scale impacts place coding and spatial memory.