Kevin Allen, Department of Clinical Neurobiology, Medical Faculty of Heidelberg University and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg, Germany
As an animal explores an environment, grid cells of the medial entorhinal cortex fire only when the animal is located at specific locations that coincide with a grid of equilateral triangles. Although the functions of grid cells are still unknown, several computational models have now been developed to explain the mechanism behind the periodic firing of grid cells. In this talk, I will present two experiments aimed at 1) testing the possible functions of grid cells and 2) probing the potential mechanism responsible for grid periodicity. One experiment makes use of mice lacking GluA1-containing AMPA receptors whereas the other combines tetrode recordings and optogenetic stimulation to identify parvalbumin-expressing interneurons of the medial entorhinal cortex. The results will be discussed in the context of current computational models of grid cells.