Edvard and May-Britt Moser: A Ten-Year Chronology of Research
There has been a fruitful relationship between the resources the Mosers have received over the past decade and the pioneering research findings they have made in the area of spatial navigation and memory, as the abbreviated timetable below reveals:
2002--The Mosers are granted 10 years of funding by the Norwegian Research Council to establish and co-direct the Centre for the Biology of Memory. This enables their lab to grow from two people to 20-30 people.
One of the Mosers' experimental rats atop a representation of a rat neuron embedded in the glass cornerstone of the Norwegian Brain Centre. This Centre, which recently opened at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology at Trondheim, will greatly expand the capabilities of the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience. Raymond Skjerpeng, Kavli Institute
2005—In a landmark paper published in Nature, the Mosers and their colleagues report their discovery of the grid cell network for spatial navigation in the entorhinal cortex of the brain of the rat. This literally puts this portion of the brain on the map in the research arena on spatial navigation and memory, which previous studies suggested occurred in “place cells” found in the memory-storing region of the brain known as the hippocampus.
2007—The Centre for the Biology of Memory is selected by the Kavli Foundation to become the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience. Funding from the Kavli Foundation provides a more permanent basis for the neuroscience research the Mosers were conducting.
2008—By this time, a number of the Mosers’ research projects reveal that there are different subtypes of cells in the entorhinal cortex responsible for signaling place, distance, and direction—the key ingredients needed for an animal to sense and continually update its location on an internalized map of the external environment.
2009--Research by the Mosers and their colleagues reveal the type of signaling that occurs between grid cells and nearby place cells. Thanks to this research, it is now thought that the grid cells signal location to place cells, which plot local landmark information on top of the position information.
2011—The Mosers and their colleagues show that when they removed rats from one environment and place them in another environment they were already familiar with, signature brain cell signaling of the two places would compete in the rat’s brain until the one that best matched the current location took over—all within 125 milliseconds. With Eric Kandel at the Kavli Institute for Brain Science at Columbia and Lisa Giocomo at Trondheim, the Mosers also discover a type of ion channel in grid cells whose activity is like a zoom button that determines the size and degree of resolution of the map of space created in a rat’s mind.
2012—The Mosers open and codirect the Norwegian Brain Centre, which has about ten times more research space than their previous facilities and will enable about twice as many neuroscience labs to operate concurrently. The Centre will also enable training of outside investigators and collaborations that likely will take research on grid cells into the human realm.