Our minds on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Grid cells and Memory Palaces

New scientific research has shown that in the hippocampus of rats there are sets of tens of thousands of neurons arranged in grids. These “grid cells” as they are being called can be fired by one control cell and those control cells are triggered by location. As a rat moves about its environment, the firing of the grid cells coincides with specific locations. Scientific American has a great write-up about this stunning development at their new cognitive blog mind matters. This development pretty clearly ties episodic memory to locale which I find highly interesting because of how that fact may have been utilized for centuries now.

Ancient Greek rheroical schools used to teach a technique called the method of loci or also sometimes known as memory palaces. Through the process of constructing an imaginary place, a rhetoritician could construct a place in which various items and features were associated with elements or premises of a story or speech. From what I have seen, this would seem like a fairly good explanation for why the method of loci works. And I also think it makes a compelling argument for why the future of the computer interface is just augmented reality.

« Previously: