Key Parts of the Brain Blamed for People to Get Lost While Finding a Way

by Medindia Content Team on  January 20, 2008 at 1:51 PM Research News   - G J E 4
Key Parts of the Brain Blamed for People to Get Lost While Finding a Way
Ever wondered why some people get lost while finding a way through city streets? Well, a new study has the answer to the question.

According to the study, by neuroscientists at University College London, there are two key parts of the brain, which work together to help humans plan and follow routes in a familiar city.

A part of the brain called the hippocampus stores memories about key locations and landmarks while other brain cells, called grid cells, provide human's internal sense of space and distance, rather like a GPS system.

The two parts of the brain "talk" to each other and allow us to remember routes and plan new ones. But in people who get lost easily, navigation cells are less efficient at talking to each other, so they get disoriented.

They believe training these cells can help people navigate more easily and may explain how London taxi drivers gain the "knowledge", the encyclopedic memory of the city's streets required before they can get a licence.

"People who get lost easily don't make good use of their grid cells. These provide us with information about distance, movement and direction while linking to memories about specific landmarks. For each location a specific pattern of cells will send signals to trigger a particular memory," the Telegraph quoted Dr Hugo Spiers, a neuro-scientist at UCL, as saying.

"For example the entrance to Top Shop on your local high street will have one pattern while another will trigger a memory of St Pancras station. By talking to each other in this way, the cells allow the brain to produce a route it has to follow," Spiers added.

Researchers have found that if either of these two key parts of the brain is not working, the ability to find our way around is impaired.

The researchers have revealed the findings as part of an exhibition at London's Giomple Fils Gallery, funded by the medical research charity the Wellcome Trust.

Source: ANI

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