Scientists in the United Kingdom say they have discovered a new “distance sensitive” cell, which acts like a GPS for the brain.
Their study, published in Nature Neuroscience, was detailed in a report by Study Finds. The researchers from Durham University found that these cells record how far we travel during trips and can even note the locations of objects and landmarks along the way.
Everyone’s brain contains these “GPS-like” brain cells. These Vector Trace cells are responsible for mapping out places a person has already seen, like a route from the mall or even where you last put your car keys.
“The discovery of Vector Trace cells is particularly important as they are found in the area of the brain that’s the first to be attacked by disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease,” said a statement on the university website. “This could explain why a common symptom of the disease, and a key early warning sign, is losing or misplacing objects.
“As the new research uncovers further levels of our memory, which is often lost with brain damage and aging, it could lead to more understanding about certain kinds of dementia and help uncover new ways for earlier diagnosis and more effective therapies.”
The research was led by Dr. Stephen Poulter and Dr. Colin Lever, members of the Learning and Memory Processes Center at Durham.
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