Primate brains make visual memory maps using triangular grids


True Strange Library

Image shows grid cell firing patterns, plotted according to where the eyes are fixed on a computer screen, with red showing the strongest. (Emory University Image)

Primates’ brains see the world through triangular grids, according to a new study published online Sunday in the journal Nature.

Scientists at Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, have identified grid cells, neurons that fire in repeating triangular patterns as the eyes explore visual scenes, in the brains of rhesus monkeys.

The finding has implications for understanding how humans form and remember mental maps of the world, as well as how neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s erode those abilities. This is the first time grid cells have been detected directly in primates. Grid cells were identified in rats in 2005, and their existence in humans has been indirectly inferred through magnetic resonance imaging.

Grid cells’ electrical activities were recorded by introducing electrodes into…

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