Navigating cognition: Spatial codes for human thinking

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


The hippocampal formation has long been suggested to underlie both memory formation and spatial navigation. We discuss how neural mechanisms identified in spatial navigation research operate across information domains to support a wide spectrum of cognitive functions. In our framework, place and grid cell population codes provide a representational format to map variable dimensions of cognitive spaces. This highly dynamic mapping system enables rapid reorganization of codes through remapping between orthogonal representations across behavioral contexts, yielding a multitude of stable cognitive spaces at different resolutions and hierarchical levels. Action sequences result in trajectories through cognitive space, which can be simulated via sequential coding in the hippocampus. In this way, the spatial representational format of the hippocampal formation has the capacity to support flexible cognition and behavior.


External organisations
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • Radboud University Nijmegen
  • Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences
  • University of Technology Sydney
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Behavioral Sciences Biology
Original languageEnglish
Article numbereaat6766
JournalScience (New York, N.Y.)
Issue number6415
Publication statusPublished - 2018
Publication categoryResearch