Our laboratory investigates the way that the brain represents a 3D scene when a moving observer navigates a 3D environment. Neuroscientists advocate for two competing theories. That we reconstruct a cognitive map based on 3D coordinates, or that we use a view-based strategy. What type of representation do humans generate?
We use immersive virtual reality to investigate this question.
Participants in our experiments wear a head mounted display and try to navigate a scene in order to reach a target object, or a previously visited location. We can then explore, for example, the type of representation participants might be generating and whether this is based on 3D coordinates, a view-based representation or alternatively an adaptation of the latter.
Many of our experiments (and others) suggest that the brain does not build a 3D world-based coordinate frame. What it could be doing instead is a trickier question. In the search for possible hypotheses to test, we collaborate with colleagues in computer vision, where there are interesting new ideas about alternative models of spatial representation in mapping and navigation.