About My Health Careers Internship MedBlogs Contact us

Sense of Direction Inborn, Study Reveals

by Rathi Manohar on June 19, 2010 at 6:14 PM
Font : A-A+

Sense of Direction Inborn, Study Reveals

The sense of direction is inherent in newborn rats, reveals a new study carried out in Britian.

The study, conducted by scientists at University College London (UCL), demonstrates that the brain's representations of the sense of place and direction appear extremely early in the animal's development - within two weeks of being born - and seemingly independently of any experience of the world.


The directional signal, which allows the animal to know which way it is facing, is already at adult levels as soon as it can be measured in newborn rats. Sense of place is also present early, but improves with age.

Representations of distance appear a few days later.

"The question of how we acquire knowledge of the outside world and form our sense of place in it is one that has challenged both scientists and philosophers for centuries," said Dr Francesca Cacucci, UCL Institute of Behavioural Neuroscience, one of the authors of the paper apperaring in the journal Science.

Cacucci added: "This work clarifies the processes involved for the first time, and shows that the concept of space is something that develops very early - most likely within the first two weeks of being born, and is unlikely to have been learnt."

In the study, scientists monitored the activation, or 'firing', of three different types of spatial neurons in the brains of rats, specifically in an area of the brain called the hippocampus.

As the hippocampus in humans plays a crucial role in long-term memory for events and spatial navigation, understanding its development tells us to what extent our ability to remember (and find our way) depends on innate factors and learning.

Dr Thomas Wills, UCL Department of Developmental and Cell Biology and author of the paper, said: "We want to know how early each of these three types of spatial cell develop and in what order. This will provide us with clues about how the system gets wired up."

The notion of a pre-wired spatial framework has been around for some time but lacked empirical support.

Professor O'Keefe, another author from the UCL Department of Developmental and Cell Biology, said: "Given that we have found that some aspects of the spatial representation come into play so early, within two weeks of birth, we think that space could be a sense that is developed independently of any experience; rather than growing out of experience of the world, if it could provide a conceptual framework for experience in the first place, a view first advocated by the 18th century philosopher Immanuel Kant."

Source: ANI

News A-Z
News Category
What's New on Medindia
Ways to Manage Stress during COVID-19 Pandemic
Can Adjusting Fatty Acid Intake Improve Mood in Bipolar Disorder Patients?
Insulin Resistance Doubles the Risk of Major Depressive Disorder
View all

Medindia Newsletters Subscribe to our Free Newsletters!
Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.

Recommended Reading
Brain Facts
The brain is the most amazing and complex organ in this universe and has billions of nerve cells ......
Newborn Brain Cells Show The Way
Although the fact that we generate new brain cells throughout life is no longer disputed, their ......
Number, Space and Time Concepts Grasped Even By Nine-Month-Old Babies
Nine-month-old babies grasp number, space and time concepts in more complex ways than previously ......
Development Milestone
Medindia offers a milestone chart for the growing child, by which we can determine the activities .....

Disclaimer - All information and content on this site are for information and educational purposes only. The information should not be used for either diagnosis or treatment or both for any health related problem or disease. Always seek the advice of a qualified physician for medical diagnosis and treatment. Full Disclaimer

© All Rights Reserved 1997 - 2021

This site uses cookies to deliver our services. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Use