How our brains navigate the world without us noticing

Ars Technica » Scientific Method 2013-05-03

"Smells like I'm heading east."

To remain oriented in a complex world, our brains constantly make and revise maps of our surroundings. We do most of this mental mapping unconsciously, which makes it hard to study how our brains keep a firm grasp on space and time.

“Every creature, no matter how simple or complex, must make maps of space,” said Mayank Mehta, a neuroscientist at UCLA. “Our goal is to understand what are the cues they are using and how they are putting them together.”

To meet that goal, Mehta and his colleagues watched the brains of rats exploring a virtual reality environment and found that mental mapping relies on a wider variety of sensory input than previously thought.

Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments