October 14, 2014 at 07:58AM
"It may well be that the brain's navigational sense ... is the evolutionary font of all memory." #readingToday  

In addition to their role in navigation, the specialized cells appear to be involved more generally in the formation of memories, particularly memories of events and experiences. In fact, O'Keefe and the Mosers, as well as other scientists, have begun to theorize that the "mental travel" of memory is governed by the same brain systems that enable us to get around in the world. In a 2013 article in Nature Neuroscience, Edvard Moser and his colleague György Buzsáki provided extensive experimental evidence that "the neuronal mechanisms that evolved to define the spatial relationship among landmarks can also serve to embody associations among objects, events and other types of factual information." Out of such associations we weave the memories of our lives. It may well be that the brain's navigational sense — its ancient, intricate way of plotting and recording movement through space — is the evolutionary font of all memory.

Navigation is the most elemental of our skills — "Where am I?" was the first question a creature had to answer — and it's the one that gives us our tightest connection to the world. The loss of nav...