In this study, we integrated neural encoding and decoding into a unified framework for spatial information processing in the brain. Specifically, the neural representations of self-location in the hippocampus (HPC) and entorhinal cortex (EC) play crucial roles in spatial navigation. Intriguingly, these neural representations in these neighboring brain areas show stark differences. Whereas the place cells in the HPC fire as a unimodal function of spatial location, the grid cells in the EC show periodic tuning curves with different periods for different subpopulations (called modules). By combining an encoding model for this modular neural representation and a realistic decoding model based on belief propagation, we investigated the manner in which self-location is encoded by neurons in the EC and then decoded by downstream neurons in the HPC. Through the results of numerical simulations, we first show the positive synergy effects of the modular structure in the EC. The modular structure introduces more coupling between heterogeneous modules with different periodicities, which provides increased error-correcting capabilities. This is also demonstrated through a comparison of the beliefs produced for decoding two- and four-module codes. Whereas the former resulted in a complete decoding failure, the latter correctly recovered the self-location even from the same inputs. Further analysis of belief propagation during decoding revealed complex dynamics in information updates due to interactions among multiple modules having diverse scales. Therefore, the proposed unified framework allows one to investigate the overall flow of spatial information, closing the loop of encoding and decoding self-location in the brain.

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