1. Neuroscience
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Visual cue-related activity of cells in the medial entorhinal cortex during navigation in virtual reality

  1. Amina A Kinkhabwala  Is a corresponding author
  2. Yi Gu  Is a corresponding author
  3. Dmitriy Aronov
  4. David W Tank  Is a corresponding author
  1. Caltech, United States
  2. Princeton University, United States
Research Article
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Cite this article as: eLife 2020;9:e43140 doi: 10.7554/eLife.43140


During spatial navigation, animals use self-motion to estimate positions through path integration. However, estimation errors accumulate over time and it is unclear how they are corrected. Here we report a new cell class ('cue cell') encoding visual cues that could be used to correct errors in path integration in mouse medial entorhinal cortex (MEC). During virtual navigation, individual cue cells exhibited firing fields only near visual cues and their population response formed sequences repeated at each cue. These cells consistently responded to cues across multiple environments. On a track with cues on left and right sides, most cue cells responded to cues only one side. During navigation in a real arena, they showed spatially stable activity and accounted for 32% of unidentified, spatially stable MEC cells. These cue cell properties demonstrate that the MEC contains a code representing spatial landmarks, which could be important for error correction during path integration.

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All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Amina A Kinkhabwala

    Biology and Biological Engineering, Caltech, Pasadena, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Yi Gu

    Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Dmitriy Aronov

    Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. David W Tank

    Princeton Neuroscience Institute, Princeton University, Princeton, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0002-9423-4267


National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (5R37NS081242)

  • David W Tank

National Institute of Mental Health (5R01MH083686)

  • David W Tank

National Institutes of Health (F32NS070514-01A1)

  • Amina A Kinkhabwala

The funders had no role in the experiments or analysis in this publication.


Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the Princeton University Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC protocol# 1910-15) and were in compliance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Sachin Deshmukh, Indian Institute of Science Bangalore, India

Publication history

  1. Received: October 26, 2018
  2. Accepted: March 6, 2020
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 9, 2020 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 23, 2020 (version 2)


© 2020, Kinkhabwala et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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