A virtual reality environment which human participants explored while lying in an fMRI brain scanner. An example of the spatially-organised firing pattern of a grid cell is overlaid on the arena floor.
‘Grid cells’ that act like a spatial map in the brain have been identified for the first time in humans, according to new research by UCL scientists which may help to explain how we create internal maps of new environments. […]
Grid cells represent where an animal is located within its environment, which the researchers liken to having a satnav in the brain. They fire in patterns that show up as geometrically regular, triangular grids when plotted on a map of a navigated surface. They were discovered by a Norwegian lab in 2005 whose research suggested that rats create virtual grids to help them orient themselves in their surroundings, and remember new locations in unfamiliar territory.
Study co-author Dr Caswell Barry said: “It is as if grid cells provide a cognitive map of space. In fact, these cells are very much like the longitude and latitude lines we’re all familiar with on normal maps, but instead of using square grid lines it seems the brain uses triangles.