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The hippocampus as a predictive map

By Kimberly L. Stachenfeld, Matthew M. Botvinick, Samuel J Gershman

Posted 28 Dec 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/097170 (published DOI: 10.1038/nn.4650)

A cognitive map has long been the dominant metaphor for hippocampal function, embracing the idea that place cells encode a geometric representation of space. However, evidence for predictive coding, reward sensitivity, and policy dependence in place cells suggests that the representation is not purely spatial. We approach this puzzle from a reinforcement learning perspective: what kind of spatial representation is most useful for maximizing future reward? We show that the answer takes the form of a predictive representation. This representation captures many aspects of place cell responses that fall outside the traditional view of a cognitive map. Furthermore, we argue that entorhinal grid cells encode a low-dimensional basis set for the predictive representation, useful for suppressing noise in predictions and extracting multiscale structure for hierarchical planning.

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