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Animal ThinkingContemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition$
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Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.001.0001

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Navigating in a Three-Dimensional World

Navigating in a Three-Dimensional World

(p.23) 3 Navigating in a Three-Dimensional World
Animal Thinking

Kathryn J. Jeffery

The MIT Press

A central theme in the study of animal navigation has been the extent to which such navigation requires the formation of an internal representation of space, the so-called “cognitive map.” Although its properties remain disputed, it is now generally accepted that a map-like representation exists in the brain, and neurobiological studies, conducted in tandem with behavioral investigations, have done much to elucidate the neural substrate of the map as it operates in two dimensions. However, to date little is known about how the map encodes real-world, three-dimensional space. Using recent neurobiological and behavioral findings, this issue is explored here. It is argued that the navigational problems in three dimensions are qualitatively as well as quantitatively different from those in two dimensions, and evidence suggests that, perhaps for this reason, horizontal and vertical space are processed separately in the vertebrate brain. The possible adaptive consequences of such an anisotropic encoding scheme are outlined.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, navigation, cognitive map, anisotropism, grid cells, head direction cells, place cells

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