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Maps And Graphs In Mind And Brain


How do our mind and brain represent the world? In this project, I propose that cognitive maps and cognitive graphs are two fundamental representational formats supporting our physical (space and time), conceptual (taxonomic and thematic knowledge), and cultural (individualism and collectivism) cognition. To test this hypothesis, I will combine state-of-art neuroimaging techniques with innovative cognitive tasks, including virtual reality, to disentangle cognitive maps and cognitive graphs in both physical and conceptual domains. I will also develop questionnaires and implicit behavioral tasks to assess individual preferences for map and graph representations and test whether this preference relates to the individual difference in cognition and culture. This project has the potential to help trigger a paradigm shift from the traditional map perspective to a dualistic perspective, which focuses on both maps and graphs, thereby deepening our understanding of the organizing principles underlying cognition across domains. This perspective could also inspire the current development of artificial intelligence, and the characterization of individual differences in this project could, in the long run, guide policymaking, design, and education.

This project will be hosted by the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognition and Brain Sciences, which owns the most advanced neuroimaging facilities and a powerful network of servers for data storage and analysis. Prof. Christian Doeller, who is among the top cognitive neuroscientists in spatial memory and knowledge representation, will be the supervisor. This project will also open a new career avenue for the applicant by providing valuable opportunities to develop scientific and technical skills.


Net EU contribution
€ 173 847,36
80539 Munchen

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Bayern Oberbayern München, Kreisfreie Stadt
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
No data