A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: David Pike
Date: 2016 Nov 17, 13:17 -0800
This has had big coverage this week in the UK. The BBC and several newspapers have picked it up including The Times. This is not the only research going on though. Forget the video games stories so readily latched onto by the media. The work of Professor Kate Jeffery from University College, London is well worth looking at.
Professor Jeffery is a neuroscientist researching how the brain makes an internal representation of space, the so called “cognitive map”, which it can use for navigation. She gave a keynote speech at the Royal Institute of Navigation’s INC16 in Glasgow last week. Her slides of rat tracks in a maze and their associated brain patterns were fascinating. Much mapping is believed to go on in the hippocampus and the striatum (although not simultaneously), and the effect of age related degradation therein can easily be imagined.
I’ve certainly started to notice it myself. At one time I rather prided myself upon my ability whilst walking in strange towns to perform on a par with the very latest inertial systems. Now I’m often surprised when I reach my destination sooner or later than I was expecting, and occasionally when walking though side streets coming out on main carriageways at 90 degrees to the one I was aiming for.
Is my degeneration slower than, equal to, or faster than normal? I think I’d rather not know. DaveP