Scans reveal how the brain’s GPS helps us navigate from A to B


Ian Sample
Guardian

November 15, 2011

Brain scans have revealed the workings of the brain’s GPS that underpin our decisions as we navigate towards a destination.

Two areas of the brain appear to take turns as our internal guide and work together to steer us through the environment. The brain regions take on different roles to meet our needs, with one keeping track of the distance to our destination as the crow flies, and the other chipping in to calculate the actual distance of the route ahead when we reach a junction.

Researchers pinpointed the neural systems by scanning volunteers’ brains as they watched movies shot on the streets of Soho in central London.

“We have never known anything about how the brain represents information about future places we want to be,” said Hugo Spiers, a neuroscientist at the Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience at University College London.

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