Keywords: Grid cells, Conformal isometry, Lie group representation, Lie algebra, Peter-Weyl theory, Flat torus.
Abstract: The activity of the grid cell population in the medial entorhinal cortex (MEC) of the mammalian brain forms a vector representation of the self-position of the animal. Recurrent neural networks have been proposed to explain the properties of the grid cells by updating the neural activity vector based on the velocity input of the animal. In doing so, the grid cell system effectively performs path integration. In this paper, we investigate the algebraic, geometric, and topological properties of grid cells using recurrent network models. Algebraically, we study the Lie group and Lie algebra of the recurrent transformation as a representation of self-motion. Geometrically, we study the conformal isometry of the Lie group representation where the local displacement of the activity vector in the neural space is proportional to the local displacement of the agent in the 2D physical space. Topologically, the compact abelian Lie group representation automatically leads to the torus topology commonly assumed and observed in neuroscience. We then focus on a simple non-linear recurrent model that underlies the continuous attractor neural networks of grid cells. Our numerical experiments show that conformal isometry leads to hexagon periodic patterns in the grid cell responses and our model is capable of accurate path integration.