Guugu Yimithirr is an aboriginal tribe in Australia, and Sambals are an ethnic group in the Philippines.
The Guugu Yimithirr and Sambali languages use absolute directions rather than relative directions to specify where things are in relation to other things.
For example, imagine standing in the south end of hallway that runs north/south, telling someone where the bathroom is. We'd say something like it being the second door on the left.
A Guugu Yimithirr or Sambal would say it is the second door on the West. Sambali does have words for left, right, front, back but they are mostly just used for describing things on the body, like a left hand.
Another interesting use of absolute rather than relative direction in Guugu Yimithirr is how they visualize time. Researches showed Guugu Yimithirr pictures showing someone throughout that person's life and asked the Guugu Yimithirr to order them chronologically.
When they did this, the arranged the pictures from east to west, with youngest on the east. So if the person doing this was sitting at a table facing North, they arranged the pictures right to left. If they were facing South, they arrange the pictures left to right.
More detail on Sambali in this Reddit comment from a native speaker .
Seems like a fun thing to try out, and probably simple to build.
 - https://www.wired.com/2007/04/esp/
> she could only take jobs that allowed her to commute entirely along straight roads (even curvature threw her off), and after-work happy hours at new bars were out of the question. Others with the condition say it’s like being a perpetual tourist in places that should be familiar. People with DTD can still theoretically understand verbal directions, read maps, and use GPS, though with difficulty; Roseman said that trying to understand GPS directions while driving is too overwhelming for her.
We've been through a decade of electronics miniaturization since then (thanks to cell phones), so I feel like it should be possible to make it more discreet. Does anyone know of an updated build? I'm an amateur when it comes to electronics so I could use any help I can get.
It's not quite the same, but it would be easy to make such an app and I suspect our brains will still be able to use the information as we get used to it.
Not sure how it would impact battery life though...
This is what I do and it almost always works unless I go to a new place at night.
I've often "stitched" together two areas that I knew were close simply by walking from one to the other for the first time. After doing that, I tend to stick to the first such route, even if I am consciously aware that there's a more efficient one. Is that not a common experience? Does anyone think about space in a way that they can plot everything absolutely and accurately speculate about routes they've never taken?
I am sure this varies by person as well, but I think people in grid-oriented cities or in relatively flat, open terrain are more likely to navigate and plan in a concretely geometric way. You can reason about and infer paths on a 2D plane and benefit from having a good knowledge of relative cartesian positions for different locations. You don't need detailed knowledge of other routing constraints when the paths are more interchangeable.
If limited by transportation modes, you might be biased towards a more hierarchical mental model. I.e. I know some areas abstractly by the highway, exit, and local neighborhood without a clear model for how (if at all) several such areas connect together via local roads. Users of public transit systems are likely to have similarly hierarchical knowledge of trains, buses, and transfer stations. Popular transit system maps are greatly simplified to show this abstract topology without the full spatial complexity of the real physical system.
When faced with challenging topography and circuitous routes, I think a more abstract topological model is more common. I have a rough sense of position along a route in terms of percentage completion or relative ordering of landmarks. This includes some topological knowledge such as trail junctions, water crossings, or ridges and saddles along this same abstract route. I don't retain a detailed memory of every twist or switchback in a convoluted trail. I can plan to walk around a lake or the rim of a valley without detailed memory of the shoreline or cliff edges themselves.
However, I do also have a pretty good sense of my real orientation, i.e. where is north, where is the sun, which way does the surface tilt, and which bearing would take me towards other places I know (if I could fly). I have used that to speculate and plan routes cross country without any visible trail or trail markers. But, I am not foolhardy, so I do consult maps as well!
> Maguire discovered that London taxi drivers had more gray matter in their posterior hippocampi than people who were similar in age, education and intelligence, but who did not drive taxis. In other words, taxi drivers had plumper memory centers than their peers. It seemed that the longer someone had been driving a taxi, the larger his hippocampus, as though the brain expanded to accommodate the cognitive demands of navigating London's streets.
I knew an intelligent, successful person that would give directions like "Turn at the stop sign two streets before the yellow house that has the flag pole. Then keep going, but at the train tracks you've gone too far so before that turn at the light. After Elm street, well right there they were going to build a house on that corner, but they didn't because the husband got a different job in Ohio and I didn't know them that well when they moved away. But anyway make a turn, right no left well the road kind of goes right but stay to the left, but not at the red sign in front of the old hardware store, instead I drive to the next street.", etc.
It is tempting to tell a "just so" story about this, but I do think direction / distance instructions helps two groups rendesvous or coordinate in new areas, whereas landmarks are natural ways to find things in known areas.
The first one involves landmarks, and the training consists of finding good ones. They need to be highly visible, not ambiguous, and preferably referenced on maps. Following highways is a good strategy.
The second, called dead reckoning, uses the watch and compass. With knowledge of your airspeed, wind speed, and heading, you can estimate your position after a set amount of time.
Usually, a combination of the two is used: dead reckoning between landmarks.
The article you cite specifically deals with how we encode information when we look at maps, so a few important qualifications. Men encode navigation in terms of distance and direction more than women _when dealing with maps_. I guess it's reasonable to extend the finding to say that men encode in terms of distance and direction more than women in general. Of course the study doesn't prove this, but there's so much other supporting research out there. Anyway, _more than women_ doesn't mean that men are encoding by distances and directions _more than by landmarks and instructions_. Nothing in the abstract of the article you cite supports that claim and I am personally rather skeptical of it.
One sibling comment mentions that '(far more than not) people explain the route based on things trivial to them' (I assume this means "in terms of landmarks and instructions"). If most men were out encoding the majority of their navigation in terms of distance and direction then one would expect to encounter navigation explanations in terms of these ~half the time, yet we don't.
Another comment (though this example feels a lot less persuasive to me) mentions that we use watches and compasses to navigate by distance and direction. If we're so naturally good at navigating with distances and direction why do we need the aid of these tools? In the opposite case we'd be so good at navigating with distance and direction that these tools wouldn't exist, but our visual and verbal memory would be so bad we'd need to carry around pictures and lists to help us navigate. Yet this isn'tt the case.
Anyway, I think you only have to carefully examine how you personally navigate your environments to come to the realization that we naturally navigate mostly (almost exclusively?) in terms of landmarks and instructions. If I had to guess, distances and directions (and some other intuitions such as "place") are really only a feature of spatial awareness which does not normally extend beyond the "room" you're in and the things you're looking at, and which you usually only use to navigate within these immediate spaces. Interestingly, because of this you can sometimes cause weird dissonances by engaging system 2 thinking about the real spatial relationships in you environment. In my case, the room I'm in happens to be contiguous with a bathroom and I happen to be sitting about three feet away from a toilet that others use. Usually I'm not aware of this, but now I feel like my personal space has been weirdly violated.
Basically if google maps cannot find it, calling or whatsapp with the owner almost never helps at all.
Different people organize their knowledge in different ways.
From cybernetics we have the Law Of Regulatory Models, to wit: every good regulator of a system must be (contain) a model of that system. (Conant and Ashby, 1982) http://pespmc1.vub.ac.be/ASC/LAW_MODEL.html (In humans this model (in the mind, there are others, e.g. homeostasis) is called the "ego".) A mobile entity situated in a physical environment and capable of navigating around it in repeatable ways is also a system so the regulator (in the brain of the entity) must contain a model of the physical environment.
I would be really surprised if, at any time, using any method, you could find anything that looked like a map inside the brain of a human, even while visualizing a map.
Indeed, this "theory" seems to involve talking some particular "thing" the brain "does" very prematurely, at the level where the speaker just knows too little about the brain's internal model to make their concept even meaningful.
Article: "At the time, the dominant theory in psychology for how people find their way was the cognitive map, which posits that humans and many animals create representations of the environment in the brain that they use to navigate the world."
As you say, pretty much tautologically, an organism that navigates its environment has a model of its environment. But to make the above statement falsifiable, the theorists apparently put the theory as "a uniformly coded model existing in a particular spot in the brain", which is a big, big step.
The thing is, if one has ever worked on a large computer system, one knows that just because a program shows some functionality, that doesn't mean that there will be discreet module separable from other other modules that implement this functionality (there might be such a module but it's functions are likely wrapped with many other modules). Yet it seems like cognitive scientists reason in this constantly.
No but there's probably a specific part of the brain that does deal with visual mapping.
I read this excellent article some years back about the test that aspiring London cabbies, the ones that drive the black cars, take and the preparation required "The Knowledge" to pass this difficult test. Since London's road system is so byzantine and requires lots of insider knowledge, it is unlikely that the cabbies will in the near future ever be supplanted by companies like Uber or Lyft.
Anyway turns out the gray matter in the posterior and anterior hippocampus of some of these guys were tested before and after studying for the test and there was significant growth. Perhaps this would be the place to start to pin down a neural equivalent to a real-world map.
Sure! In fact, you could say that the eyes are the part of the brain that has a close isomorphism to (a tiny subset of the EM manifestation of) the real world. Once you get about 2-3 cm from the retinas, though, I think that information has been encoded in ways that make it unrecognizable from the outside. I'm saying I doubt we'll ever be able to decode a model (let alone a map) of London from studying a cab driver's hippocampus.
I have to adjust me "priors", as a Bayesian might say. Still, monkeys aren't humans, and faces aren't London. Recognizing faces and their expressions has been a thing since faces first evolved, eh?