University College London researchers have discovered that the brain lays out a grid of cells that represent a map of spacial orientations and locations in space. In an interesting coincidence, the Rapid Eye Technology (RET) eye directing device (called a wand) is moved in a hexagonal 3D pattern just in front of the face – a pattern that due to its spacial character may be very familiar to the aforementioned part of the brain.
Further, the signals flowing through the brain from eyes to visual cortex stop off for an emotional load at the hypothalamus which is attached to the memory-gating hippocampus – the seat of this honeycomb-like spacial mapping grid.
Research team leader, Professor Neil Burgess, commented, “…grid cells may help us to find our way to the right memory as well as finding our way through our environment. These brain areas are also amongst the first to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease which may explain why getting lost is one of the most common early symptoms of this disease.”
Source: ‘Evidence for grid cells in a human memory network’ – Christian F. Doeller, Caswell Barry & Neil Burgess, University College London.