The Inner GPS

6th October 2014

“How do we know where we are? How can we find the way from one place to another? And how can we store this information in such a way that we can immediately find the way the next time we trade the same path?” This year’s Nobel prize in Physiology or Medicine went to neuroscientist John O’Keefe for his contribution to finding the system in the brain which is being dubbed as our “GPS system”.

Our relationship to our environment is symbiotic and complex. This is to say that our brain is constantly being influenced and shaped by our external environment. A fault in this relationship can have dire consequences as is the case with people with  Alzheimer’s. These “individuals often lose their way and cannot recognise their environment”.

This discovery is not only hope for helping people with Alzheimer’s but the start of understanding how normative people construct, remember, and map their environment. This can be essential for advancing industries like architecture, urban planning, and development. We use this to create smarter cities and make more human urban environments.