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Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Human brain works like a GPS

A type of brain cell that has been known to help the animal keep track of their location was also found in humans. This researchers new study found for the first time that human brain cells have a navigation system like GPS.

Researchers find neurons, or grid cells that are active in the brain of study participants as they explore the virtual environment. The researchers revealed that these cells function like an internal GPS system and in the memory.

"Grid cells to tell someone where they are in an environment," said Joshua Jacobs, a researcher from Drexel University in Philadelphia, USA, as quoted from the NBC News. In the animals, these cells provide a kind of measuring stick for navigation.

In the late 1970s, scientists discovered neurons in the hippocampus (the brain memory center) is active in mice when the animals are in a certain place. It turns out these cells are also found in humans.

In 2005, scientists discovered the grid cells in mice, and later in bats and monkeys. A functional magnetic resonance imaging study suggests that the tissue cells are also present in humans, but this new study still needs to be strong evidence.

Jacobs and his colleagues later honing deeper research on human tissue cells using electrodes implanted in the brain of drug-resistant patients in the epilepsy treatment. In the study, the study participants has created a virtual reality simulation game on the external environment. They were asked to find the location of various objects, such as water bottles and bike. Participants had to track down the former object location by using the joystick
A screenshot from the virtual reality navigation game used to identify human grid cells. (Picture from: http://www.livescience.com/)
The scientists detected the grid cells activity in the brain region that called the entorhinal cortex, which is involved in memory. And in the study, the cells become active in a triangle network pattern, and forming a coordinate system to track a person's movements.

This finding helps reveal how humans perform tracking or navigation, to suggest that we use a mechanism similar to mice and other animals. *** [EKA | FROM VARIOUS SOURCES | NBC | LIVESCIENCE | ROSALINA | KORAN TEMPO 4312]
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