The Structural Logic of the Brain’s Representation of Space: How Studies in Rodents can Inform Architectural Design for Humans

Jeffery, K. (2021) The Structural Logic of the Brain’s Representation of Space: How Studies in Rodents can Inform Architectural Design for Humans. In: Design Computation Input/Output Conference 2021 (DC I/O 2021), London, UK, 06-08 Oct 2021, ISBN 9781838129422 (doi: 10.47330/DCIO.2021.UDSU8630)

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Abstract

Architects design buildings for humans to use, and as such, it is relevant to consider how it is that we internally represent space, because this highlights factors that should be prioritised in design. Recent discoveries in neuroscience, made by studying the neural activity patterns in rodents, have uncovered a spatial mapping system that is recruited when physically moving around in a space. This system evidently exists in humans too. The core of the system is formed by sets of neurons that seem to be sensitive to, or “encode”, fundamental aspects of space including the location of the agent within it and its facing direction, how far it is away from the borders and the identity and overall structural symmetry of the space itself. Study of how these neurons adjust their activity when these aspects of the space, or of the subject within it, are changed has yielded insights about how space is mapped. One of the oddest findings has been that – all other things being equal – the fundamental metric structure of this “cognitive map” is hexagonal. In this paper I outline the basics of the cognitive mapping system, describe the properties that have emerged from studying it in rats and mice, and then consider how these might influence architectural design for humans.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Jeffery, Dr Kate
Authors: Jeffery, K.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Psychology & Neuroscience
ISBN:9781838129422

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