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It is one of the most fundamental questions in neuroscience: How do humans think? Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig, Germany, and the Kavli Institute for Systems Neuroscience in Trondheim, Norway, among them Nobel prize laureate Edvard I. Moser, offer a new proposal published in journal Science: Humans think using their brain’s navigation system.

When we navigate our environment, two important cell types are active in our brain. Place cells in the hippocampus and grid cells in the neighboring entorhinal cortex form a circuit that allows orientation and navigation. The team of scientists suggests that our inner navigation system does much more. They propose that this system is also key to ‘thinking’, explaining why our knowledge seems to be organized in a spatial fashion.

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I can see what I THINK!

“We believe that the brain stores information about our surroundings in so-called cognitive spaces (i.e. mental maps in which we arrange our experience). This concerns not only geographical data, but also relationships between objects and experience,” explains Christian Doeller, senior author of the paper and the new director at the MPI CBS. (1)

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Cutting off from the world.

Thinking in a place.

Inside a forest.

Inside a room.

Inside a city.

Inside a family.

Inside a marriage.

Inside your… self.

Questioning yourself.

There is no marriage.

No family.

No city.

You are not sitting in a room.

Just walking in a forest.

Thinking of a place long gone.

Bleeding feet.

There is no such place.

But you will soon reach it.

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Mind-body problem? But there is no body! (Chomsky's Mentalism)

At the moment you will forget about it…