Intra- and inter-layer entorhinal circuit mechanisms for estimating location


  • Prof Matthew Nolan

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Neurons in a part of the brain called the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) generate signals that are important for telling the rest of the brain where we are. Location signals are a good model for understanding cognitive processes at a cellular level because they are well characterised. Nevertheless, progress from observing location signals to understanding the mechanisms that generate them is hindered by the complexity of the layered organisation of the cortex, limited availability of tools for manipulating specific cell populations and difficulty in separating the influence of spatial and self-motion signals.

We propose experimental approaches to overcome these challenges. We will focus on two key populations of nerve cells in different layers of the MEC. Our goals are to delineate how these neurons interact with one another and to investigate their activity and roles in encoding locations and influencing behaviours.

Our results will advance understanding of the relationship between cellular signalling and neural computation in the MEC and in cognitive circuits in general. Our findings will also inform understanding of disorders that affect specific layers of the MEC, including Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia and epilepsy, and may also influence the design of devices for artificial navigation.