Spatial navigation

Professor Eleanor Maguire

My research aims to establish how we internally represent (1) large-scale space (2) our personal (autobiographical) experiences within it, and (3) seeks to determine how both types of memory can be understood within a unified cognitive-neuroanatomical framework that supports our integrated sense of who and where we are.

A further objective of my work is to better understand the effects of pathology on memory representations at different points in the life span (eg developmental disorders in children, dementia in the elderly), to aid development of clinical memory tests for early (differential) diagnosis of pathology and, in the longer term, to inform treatment and rehabilitative interventions.

I mainly employ ecologically valid or 'real life' experimental paradigms to examine brain-behaviour relationships; examples include using virtual reality to examine navigation, as well as studying London taxi drivers. Converging evidence is sought from multiple disciplines including cognitive, developmental and neuropsychology, structural and functional MR imaging. In doing so, my research has begun to unravel the roles of the left and right hippocampi in navigation and episodic memory, as well as wider brain networks that include medial frontal and retrosplenial cortices.

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