Phil 1.10.2023

Space is a latent sequence: Structured sequence learning as a unified theory of representation in the hippocampus

  • Fascinating and puzzling phenomena, such as landmark vector cells, splitter cells, and event-specific representations to name a few, are regularly discovered in the hippocampus. Without a unifying principle that can explain these divergent observations, each experiment seemingly discovers a new anomaly or coding type. Here, we provide a unifying principle that the mental representation of space is an emergent property of latent higher-order sequence learning. Treating space as a sequence resolves myriad phenomena, and suggests that the place-field mapping methodology where sequential neuron responses are interpreted in spatial and Euclidean terms might itself be a source of anomalies. Our model, called Clone-structured Causal Graph (CSCG), uses a specific higher-order graph scaffolding to learn latent representations by mapping sensory inputs to unique contexts. Learning to compress sequential and episodic experiences using CSCGs result in the emergence of cognitive maps – mental representations of spatial and conceptual relationships in an environment that are suited for planning, introspection, consolidation, and abstraction. We demonstrate that over a dozen different hippocampal phenomena, ranging from those reported in classic experiments to the most recent ones, are succinctly and mechanistically explained by our model.

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GPT Agents


  • 9:15 – 9:30 Standup
  • 1:00 – 1:30 biweekly meeting
  • 2:00 – 3:00 Weekly status report
  • 3:00 – 5:00 MORS Journal meeting with Aaron