Scientists Study Brain's GPS

"We have never known anything about how the brain represents information about future places we want to be," says Hugo Spiers, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience at University College London."We didn't know if the brain tried to keep track of the straight line distance to the goal and we got there by minimising that distance, or whether the brain used the actual path we planned to take."

Recently Scientists conducted an experiment on volunteers to observe how their brains worked out the path to choose a certain destination. The peers were given maps of Soho and taken onto a comprehensive two-hour tour and asked to learn the cafe`s , streets etc. These volunteers then sat an exam in which they were asked to recall and reproduce the area information they had learnt. In the third stage, the scientists captured an intense movie of the area covering all places, positions, turns etc.

The volunteers then rested inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the movie captured was played on a screen right infront of them. The name of the street they were on was displayed alongside a picture of the place (a cafe' or shop for example) they were supposedly destined to.

The scientists would paused the movie whenever a junction appeared and asked the volunteers which way to turn. What they did not know was that the movies were preset to follow the quickest route most of the time, and take them on detours at others.

See the results and full story here


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