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Navigation of a mind-space. The spatial organization of declarative knowledge

Objective

"Your brain is among the most complex existing systems, and it processes every second an amazing amount of data. The most amazing thing, however, is that you get to know some of it.
Declarative knowledge, meaning the portion of knowledge that we can consciously access and manipulate, is one of the most enduring mysteries of the human mind. How did it evolve? And what are the mechanisms behind it? One possibility is that the complex neural machinery that mammals evolved to navigate space has been recycled to ""navigate"" declarative knowledge. Research from single cell recordings in rodents to brain imaging studies with humans is converging toward the fascinating hypothesis that conscious declarative knowledge is spatially organized, and can be stored, retrieved and manipulated through the same computations used to represent and navigate physical space. Crucially, this spatial scaffolding may be what makes knowledge accessible to us.
The time is mature for an integral and ambitious attempt to test and develop this innovative hypothesis. NOAM will be at the frontline of this endeavour relying upon cutting-edge neuroimaging and analysis techniques. In this project we will test the relationships between spatial and conceptual navigation asking whether people that navigate space in a different way (congenitally blind individuals) also navigate concepts in a different way. Then, we will explore how low-dimensional cognitive maps interact with multidimensional semantic information, and we will test whether the spatial organization is a trademark of conscious declarative knowledge or extends to unconscious conceptual processing. Finally we will adopt a translational approach to characterize the neural basis of pre-clinical Alzheimer Disease.
Thanks to its groundbreaking nature and high-risk/high-gain approach, NOAM has the potential to ensure major progresses in cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence and related fields, changing the way we think about the human mind"

Field of science

  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/zoology/mammalogy
  • /natural sciences/computer and information sciences/artificial intelligence
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology/neuroscience/cognitive neuroscience
  • /medical and health sciences/basic medicine/neurology/alzheimer
  • /natural sciences/biological sciences/neurobiology/neuroscience

Call for proposal

ERC-2018-STG
See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

ERC-STG - Starting Grant

Host institution

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI TRENTO
Address
Via Calepina 14
38122 Trento
Italy
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 1 498 644

Beneficiaries (1)

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI TRENTO
Italy
EU contribution
€ 1 498 644
Address
Via Calepina 14
38122 Trento
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments