What internal mechanisms help people navigate in time and space

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Humans have special internal mechanisms that help people orient themselves in space and time. We are talking about “built-in programs”, which have their own peculiarities and work somewhat differently than similar mechanisms in animals.

Humans do not have “superpowers” such as echolocation, which is used by bats for navigation, but we have our own features, which are still insufficiently studied by science. For example, in the middle of the twentieth century, the American psychologist Edward Tolman proposed the concept that people can create so-called “cognitive maps.

In the seventies of the last century, researchers from University College London discovered brain cells that are activated when a person is in a familiar environment. In addition, scientists clarified the role of the hippocampus in navigation – it was found that this area of the brain has special cells that help not to get lost on the ground.

About a decade ago, scientists discovered time cells that help our thinking organ keep a kind of record of the order of events. The internal clock works in episodic memory and is closely linked to the “internal GPS”. Researchers found that these brain systems even depend on factors such as smells and sounds.