Thursday, March 7, 2024

Hyperdimensional Navigation Syndrome


How humans use their sense of smell to find their way
Oct 2023,

28 participants each entered a virtual three-dimensional smellscape four times. The placement of eight "odor objects" in the environment (smells like orange or banana) always stayed the same. What changed was where participants were placed in the virtual reality arena and which target odor they needed to find.

Results? "Human subjects can actually navigate spaces using their nose in the context of a particular type of virtual reality environment."

"We also demonstrated that this behavior was associated with the emergence of a particular neural signature indicative of what we might call 'cognitive maps.' This neural signature not only appeared in areas traditionally associated with navigation behavior, but also in olfactory-related brain regions."

Their findings suggest that these two sets of brain regions share a common spatial code, something that hadn't previously been known.

via University of Pennsylvania Jay Gottfried's lab: Clara U. Raithel et al, Recruitment of grid-like responses in human entorhinal and piriform cortices by odor landmark-based navigation, Current Biology (2023). DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2023.06.087