Context-dependent spatially periodic activity in the human entorhinal cortex

Zoltan Nadasdy, T. Peter Nguyen, Ágoston Török, Jason Y. Shen, Deborah E. Briggs, Pradeep N. Modur, Robert J. Buchanan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


The spatially periodic activity of grid cells in the entorhinal cortex (EC) of the rodent, primate, and human provides a coordinate system that, together with the hippocampus, informs an individual of its location relative to the environment and encodes the memory of that location. Among the most defining features of grid-cell activity are the 60° rotational symmetry of grids and preservation of grid scale across environments. Grid cells, however, do display a limited degree of adaptation to environments. It remains unclear if this level of environment invariance generalizes to human grid-cell analogs, where the relative contribution of visual input to the multimodal sensory input of the EC is significantly larger than in rodents. Patients diagnosed with nontractable epilepsy who were implanted with entorhinal cortical electrodes performing virtual navigation tasks to memorized locations enabled us to investigate associations between grid-like patterns and environment. Here, we report that the activity of human entorhinal cortical neurons exhibits adaptive scaling in grid period, grid orientation, and rotational symmetry in close association with changes in environment size, shape, and visual cues, suggesting scale invariance of the frequency, rather than the wavelength, of spatially periodic activity. Our results demonstrate that neurons in the human EC represent space with an enhanced flexibility relative to neurons in rodents because they are endowed with adaptive scalability and context dependency.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E3516-E3525
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 25 2017


  • Entorhinal cortex
  • Grid cell
  • Human
  • Single unit
  • Spatial memory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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