The chicken and egg problem of grid cells and place cells

Genela Morris, Dori Derdikman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Place cells and grid cells are major building blocks of the hippocampal cognitive map. The prominent forward model postulates that grid-cell modules are generated by a continuous attractor network; that a velocity signal evoked during locomotion moves entorhinal activity bumps; and that place-cell activity constitutes summation of entorhinal grid-cell modules. Experimental data support the first postulate, but not the latter two. Several families of solutions that depart from these postulates have been put forward. We suggest a modified model (spatial modulation continuous attractor network; SCAN), whereby place cells are generated from spatially selective nongrid cells. Locomotion causes these cells to move the hippocampal activity bump, leading to movement of the entorhinal manifolds. Such inversion accords with the shift of hippocampal thought from navigation to more abstract functions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-138
Number of pages14
JournalTrends in Cognitive Sciences
Issue number2
Early online date24 Nov 2022
StatePublished - Feb 2023
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Elsevier Ltd


  • cognitive map
  • continuous attractor networks
  • entorhinal cortex
  • hippocampus
  • navigation
  • path integration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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