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Cognitive coding in the hippocampal-entorhinal system

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The fundamental question in cognitive neuroscience — what are the key neural coding principles underlying higher-level cognition in humans — still remains largely unanswered. In my long-term attempt to tackle this question, I use human memory and the neural population code for space provided by grid and place cells as a model system. I will present evidence from fMRI, MEG and virtual reality experiments for cognitive coding mechanisms in the hippocampal-entorhinal system, such as continuous coding of virtual and mentally simulated space, hierarchical scaling of memories, mnemonic convergence, and attractor-based integration. Furthermore, I will show how grid-like coding could minimize uncertainty in the environment for optimal decision making and how distance is represented in cognitive space. Finally, I will provide evidence for an early breakdown of the grid-system in a genetic model of Alzheimer’s disease. Identifying neural metrics of cognition could open up the possibility for new technology to enhance cognition as well as for novel biomarkers for an early detection of neurodegenerative diseases.

This talk is part of the Zangwill Club series.

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