Grid cells are modulated by local head direction

Klara Gerlei, Jessica Passlack, Ian Hawes, Brianna Vandrey, Holly Stevens, Ioannis Papastathopoulos, Matthew F. Nolan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Grid and head direction codes represent cognitive spaces for navigation and memory. Pure grid cells generate grid codes that have been assumed to be independent of head direction, whereas conjunctive cells generate grid representations that are tuned to a single head direction. Here, we demonstrate that pure grid cells also encode head direction, but through distinct mechanisms. We show that individual firing fields of pure grid cells are tuned to multiple head directions, with the preferred sets of directions differing between fields. This local directional modulation is not predicted by previous continuous attractor or oscillatory interference models of grid firing but is accounted for by models in which pure grid cells integrate inputs from co-aligned conjunctive cells with firing rates that differ between their fields. We suggest that local directional signals from grid cells may contribute to downstream computations by decorrelating different points of view from the same location.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4228
Number of pages14
JournalNature Communications
Early online date24 Aug 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Aug 2020


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