Our Brains Have An Internal Google Map

Orienteering in Sydney. Mark Nolan/Getty Images

Australian researchers have found that animal brains can in principle use a memory map to estimate location without external cues such as sight, smell, touch and sound.

Previously it was assumed that external input is needed to work out where you area.

However, the researchers found that even when starting at a point of complete disorientation the brain can use a previously-learned map to accurately estimate location.

The research, published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology, was carried out by Dr Allen Cheung of the Queensland Brain Institute.

Illustration of a rat using a distributed estimate to determine its location using a memory map but no external cue. Image: Rat images were obtained from a video taken by Chris Nolan . The composite image was generated by Allen Cheung.

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