Of mice and men: Building blocks in cognitive mapping

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Of mice and men: Building blocks in cognitive mapping. NEUROSCI BIOBEHAV REV XX(X) XXX-XXX-Exploration is the process by which humans and other animals gather spatial information and construct some representation of unfamiliar environments, and then utilize this information for traveling in those environments. This survey presents similarities in the travel paths of rodents and humans, suggesting that these constitute an expression of similar underlying biobehavioral mechanisms. Emphasis is given to exploration in dark or large environments, which one cannot encompass at a glance, necessitating a gradual sector-by-sector exploration. This is compared with exploration of the relatively small laboratory testing environments, where a condensed form of exploration dominates. In both rodents and humans, exploration culminates in free traveling, which is mainly determined by the physical environment. For this phase, some principles of urban design in humans and a reminiscent impact of landmarks in test environments in animals are compared. Finally, it is suggested that animal spatial behavior could provide insights into the way that humans perceive and conceive urban environments, and that spatial cognition in different animals, including humans, rests on an evolutionary analogy (or even homology).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)393-409
Number of pages17
JournalNeuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews
StatePublished - 1 Nov 2014


  • Cognitive mapping
  • Exploration
  • Home-base behavior
  • Landmarks
  • Orientation
  • Path integration
  • Spatial behavior
  • Spatial representation
  • Urban environment


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