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It has been hypothesized that the brain organizes concepts into a mental map, allowing conceptual relationships to be navigated in a manner similar to that of space. Grid cells use a hexagonally symmetric code to organize spatial representations and are the likely source of a precise hexagonal symmetry in the functional magnetic resonance imaging signal. Humans navigating conceptual two-dimensional knowledge showed the same hexagonal signal in a set of brain regions markedly similar to those activated during spatial navigation. This gridlike signal is consistent across sessions acquired within an hour and more than a week apart. Our findings suggest that global relational codes may be used to organize nonspatial conceptual representations and that these codes may have a hexagonal gridlike pattern when conceptual knowledge is laid out in two continuous dimensions.

Original publication

DOI

10.1126/science.aaf0941

Type

Journal article

Journal

Science

Publication Date

17/06/2016

Volume

352

Pages

1464 - 1468

Keywords

Adult, Brain, Female, Functional Neuroimaging, Habits, Humans, Knowledge, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Neurons, Spatial Navigation, Young Adult