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Movement is Orientation

The Nobel Prize Laureate for Medicine – Edvard Moser – has together with his colleagues discovered cell structures in the brain, which mammals use to orient in space.

All the information we have about a space is collected in the brain to create an internal map of it. Everyone knows the situation when you walk through your own home in the dark. Even if you bump into the door case or the table, from a physiologically perspective you are doing surprisingly well.

However, when moving in an unknown environment – e.g. in the desert or in the fog – sooner or later you will inevitably walk in a circle. It lacks the familiar clues that give orientation. The coordinate system collapses as fixed points are missing, where it can align itself.

The so-called grid neurons may use different types of sensors. What is interesting is, that the most important part in this orientation system is your own motion. When moving through a space, the brain calculates the direction from the movement of the muscles and stores the information in a virtual map.

So movement is not only life, but it is also essential for our orientation.