The system’s reliance on virtual grid cells could teach us about our own sense of direction
An artificial intelligence that navigates its environment much like mammals do could help solve a mystery about our own internal GPS.
Equipped with virtual versions of specialized brain nerve cells called grid cells, the AI could easily solve and plan new routes through virtual mazes. That performance, described online May 9 in Nature, suggests the grid cells in animal brains play a critical role in path planning.
“This is a big step forward” in understanding our own navigational neural circuitry, says Ingmar Kanitscheider, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin not involved in the work.
The discovery that rats track their location with the help of grid cells, which project an imaginary hexagonal lattice onto an animal’s surroundings, earned a Norwegian research team the