Perception is very subjective and abstract concept which makes it very difficult to study in isolation. Something as simple as the colour of a dress or as complex as the attitude of a leader can be perceived in highly variably ways between a large population so neuroscientists have been looking at ways to overcome this obstacle. In order to get insights into how perception works, neuroscientists and psychologists have turned to related mechanisms that are easier to measure through factors like reaction times, attention, and accuracy in tasks.
One such mechanism is spatial cognition, a branch of cognitive neuroscience that studies “how people acquire and use knowledge about their environment to determine where they are, how to obtain resources, and how to find their way home”. The reported location of a participant, their response to clear landmarks, the time it takes them to navigate a space, and the recollection of previously shown maps or regularly used routes, are among a list of data points researchers can use to start understanding people’s perception of their environment and how it differs in certain populations.
Join us as we will be discussing some of the key neuroscience studies examining spatial cognition, the limitations and advancements we are seeing in this field, and how we use these findings to create a clearer picture of human perception.