This AI uses the same kind of brain wiring as mammals to navigate | Science News

Support Science Journalism

Science News is a nonprofit.

Support us by subscribing now.


News

This AI uses the same kind of brain wiring as mammals to navigate

The system’s reliance on virtual grid cells could teach us about our own sense of direction

By
1:00pm, May 9, 2018
illustration of mental map

NAVIGATION KNOW-HOW An AI that mentally maps its environment, much like mammals do, could help solve a mystery about the navigational nerve cells in our brains.

An artificial intelligence that navigates its environment much like mammals do could help solve a mystery about our own internal GPS.

Equipped with virtual versions of specialized brain nerve cells called grid cells, the AI could easily solve and plan new routes through virtual mazes. That performance, described online May 9 in Nature, suggests the grid cells in animal brains play a critical role in path planning.

“This is a big step forward” in understanding our own navigational neural circuitry, says Ingmar Kanitscheider, a computational neuroscientist at the University of Texas at Austin not involved in the work.

The discovery that rats track their location with the help of grid cells, which project an imaginary hexagonal lattice onto an animal’s surroundings, earned a Norwegian research team the

This article is only available to Science News subscribers. Already a subscriber? Log in now.
Or subscribe today for full access.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content