Title: The Positioning System of the Brain
Author(s): John O'Keefe
Published in: Proceedings of the 29th International Technical Meeting of The Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2016)
September 12 - 16, 2016
Oregon Convention Center
Portland, Oregon
Pages: 11 - 33
Cite this article: O'Keefe, John, "The Positioning System of the Brain," Proceedings of the 29th International Technical Meeting of The Satellite Division of the Institute of Navigation (ION GNSS+ 2016), Portland, Oregon, September 2016, pp. 11-33.
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Abstract: Professor John O'Keefe is the winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine for discovering cells that constitute a positioning system in the brain. He will explain how animals and humans find their way - by working out the relationship between where they are and where other things are. The brain does this by representing places (where you are now), and representing distances and directions. Prof. O'Keefe and his colleagues have established which part of the brain does this, and how it works. Your brain has cells that represent places; so when you are in a familiar environment different cells represent different locations in this environment. There are cells that represent directions, for where you are looking and where you are moving; and there are also cells that tell the distances moved in particular directions. All this together forms a so called "cognitive map", which is a framework for identifying where you are, where other things are in your environment, and how to get from one place to another.