Have You Ever Been Lost In A Grocery Store? Researchers Know Why

Brain News – Study found that the human brain can differentiate very similar environments, such as two grocery stores in the same supermarket chain as if they were even more different than two places that are nothing alike.

In a new study, researchers at the University of Arizona asked 27 participants to watch an animated video from the perspective of another person walking around three virtual cities which looked nearly identical. All stores were in the same place in every city, but not every city had the same stores. The participants took a virtual walk with the video and were asked to memorize where each store was in the city, where the stores were in relation to one another, how long it took to walk between certain stores, along with other information.

Those participants who scored 80% on their test watched the video and answered the queries again. The researchers even tracked the brain activity of the participants during the tasks by using an MRI scanner.

According to the study findings, the patterns of brain activity were often very similar to each other as the cities were very similar. The result suggested that the human brain may consider similar environments as if they are even more different than two environments that have no similarities. It also showed that the brain stores information in the prefrontal cortex about similarities between a pair of environments.

“A lot of stuff in our daily life is similar, so there’s no reason to use our limited resources to relearn very similar experiences. But at the same time, there are things in our everyday life that we have to treat as different in order to be able to learn,” said Arne Ekstrom, senior author of the study published in the journal Nature Communications.

As per the researchers, the research findings can be extremely beneficial for the scientists to understand stroke and Alzheimer’s disease include symptoms like disorientation and poor spatial memory.

To Know More You May Refer To:

Zheng, L., Gao, Z., McAvan, A.S. et al. Partially overlapping spatial environments trigger reinstatement in hippocampus and schema representations in prefrontal cortex. Nat Commun 12, 6231 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-26560-w

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