Grid cells: From the brain to technical implementation (GRIDMAP)
The GRIDMAP research project will use new and developing knowledge about how the brain functions to develop better computers
The speed and computing power of computers have grown exponentially since they were invented, but even the best computers still have only a small number of parallel processors that operate independently. The brain is by comparison able to run hundreds of thousands of processes in parallel.
Computers with a small number of parallel processors are good at performing precisely instructed operations on large quantities of data very fast, but they are less effective in enabling the near instantaneous processing of the rapidly changing and ambiguous information that constantly faces living interactive organisms. Instead, this is the realm of the brain, which is very good at drawing conclusions based on unclear or ambiguous information. With this in mind, it has been argued that computer technology would benefit from looking at how parallel computation is handled by the brain.
Grid cells as an access ramp
The recent discovery of a key mechanism for the neural mapping of space that uses the metric encoded by grid cells provides us with unprecedented and direct access to some of the fundamental operating principles of cortical circuits. The GRIDMAP project will use grid cells as an approach to understanding massively parallel-distributed spatial computations. Recent scientific breakthroughs and new brain experiments will be used to develop computationally tractable algorithms that can be tested in artificial navigating agents (robots).