Out of sight, out of mind

 

Out of sight, out of mind

Out of sight, out of mind? How the brain codes its surroundings beyond the field of view.

Even when they are not directly in sight, we are aware of our surroundings: so it is that when our eyes are fixed on an interesting book, for example, we know that the door is to the right, the bookshelf is to the left and the window is behind us. However, research into the brain has so far concerned itself predominantly with how information from our field of vision is coded in the visual cortex. To date it has not been known how the brain codes our surroundings beyond the field of view from an egocentric perspective (that is, from the point of view of the observer).

The scientists discovered that patterns of activity in the parietal cortex code the participant’s egocentric position, that is, the relative position to his or her surroundings. The spatial information discovered there proved to be independent of the particular object, its absolute position in the room or that of the observer – i.e. it encoded egocentric spatial information of the three-dimensional surroundings.