Models of Spatial Cognition Neural Representations of Space


Neurophysiological research has led to detailed mechanistic theories about how spatial locations and headings are represented in the brain and used in memory and navigation. INTRODUCTION 0369.001 The term`spatial cognition' covers processes controlling behaviour that must be directed at particular locations, or responses that depend on the location or spatial arrangement of stimuli. There are many circumstances in which such processes are required for adaptive behaviour, and they are exhibited in creatures as diverse as bees, birds, rats and primates. At the most basic level, an organism must be able to flee from a dangerous location to a safer place. It may also need to return to a location where food is abundant or has been stored; to act upon a stimulus at one location, while temporarily ignoring other stimuli; or to navigate from one place to another by an efficient route, avoiding obstacles. All of these behaviours seem to demand some sort of spatial representation; a neural code that distinguishes one place or spatial arrangement of stimuli from another. Models of spatial cognition describe these representations and the nature of the processes that operate on them to give rise to spatial behaviour. 0369.002 Models of spatial cognition are constrained by experimental evidence from cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, neuroimaging and neurophysi-ology. The picture emerging from this evidence is that spatial cognition can be divided into two modes, which are to some extent separated in the mammalian brain. Broadly speaking, processes involved in action, attention and perceptual constancy involve the par-ietal neocortex. The importance of parietal processes in spatial attention and action is illustrated by the well-known neuropsychological phenomenon of hemispatial neglect, in which patients with lesions of the right parietal cortex show an attentional bias towards the right. The presence of stimuli on the patient's right side tends to extinguish any response to a stimulus on the left, so that for instance, a patient may shave only the right side of his face, or copy only the right side of a picture. Processes involved in long-term spatial memory, orientation and navigation take place in the hippo-campus and adjacent cortical and subcortical structures. Patients with damage to these regions, especially in the right hemisphere, are impaired in a range of topographical memory tasks such as drawing maps or judging the distance between locations. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the right hippocampus is activated during the verbal recall of routes and during navigation …

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@inproceedings{Hartley2002ModelsOS, title={Models of Spatial Cognition Neural Representations of Space}, author={Tom Hartley and Neil Burgess}, year={2002} }