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The cognitive map in humans: spatial navigation and beyond

Epstein, RA; Patai, EZ; Julian, JB; Spiers, HJ; (2017) The cognitive map in humans: spatial navigation and beyond. [Review]. Nature Neuroscience , 20 (11) pp. 1504-1513. 10.1038/nn.4656. Green open access

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Abstract

The ‘cognitive map’ hypothesis proposes that brain builds a unified representation of the spatial environment to support memory and guide future action. Forty years of electrophysiological research in rodents suggests that cognitive maps are neurally instantiated by place, grid, border, and head direction cells in the hippocampal formation and related structures. Here we review recent work that suggests a similar functional organization in the human brain and reveals novel insights into how cognitive maps are used during spatial navigation. Specifically, these studies indicate that: (i) the human hippocampus and entorhinal cortex support map-like spatial codes; (ii) posterior brain regions such as parahippocampal and retrosplenial cortices provide critical inputs that allow cognitive maps to be anchored to fixed environmental landmarks; (iii) hippocampal and entorhinal spatial codes are used in conjunction with frontal lobe mechanisms to plan routes during navigation. We also discuss how these three basic elements of cognitive map based navigation—spatial coding, landmark anchoring, and route planning—might be applied to non-spatial domains to provide the building blocks for many core elements of human thought.

Type: Article
Title: The cognitive map in humans: spatial navigation and beyond
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/nn.4656
Publisher version: http://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4656
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10051179
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