A Nobel Prize in medicine was awarded Monday for the discovery of “an inner GPS in the brain.” While this function of the brain affects how we geographically map our surroundings, could it also guide us in other ways?
Theories building on this discovery take us into the realm of intuition and “coincidences.” When you bump into just the right person at just the right time, could it be this internal global positioning system (GPS) at work? Norwegian researcher Edvard Moser, his wife, May-Britt Moser, and British-American scientist Dr. John O’Keefe found that so-called grid cells in the brain comprise this inner GPS.
Grid cells are located in the hippocampus and may also be located in the anterior cingulate part of the brain, which plays an important role in human emotion, said Dr. Bernard Beitman, a Yale-educated psychiatrist currently working from the University of Virginia, after reading some of the prize-winning research. “This emotional aspect of grid cell mapping could make particular locations more highly charged in our brain-based maps. Like the maps used in GPS navigation, these maps could then help us find pathways to emotionally important people, things, and situations,” Dr. Beitman wrote in an email to Epoch Times.
Epoch Times asked Moser and Moser what they thought of this idea. Edvard Moser responded via email that “the link to emotions is very speculative.” Dr. Beitman agrees that the connections are speculative, “But it is on such evidence that new theories can develop.” Many coincidence anecdotes he’s heard make it clear to him that people are somehow able to map their location in relation to emotionally significant people or places. “Just how [this works] is our fun question,” he said.
He gave an example: “A mother felt her 6-year-old daughter was in danger and rushed to the edge of a deep-water quarry to find her happily playing at the water’s edge. How did the mother ‘feel’ the danger? How did she ‘know’ how to get there?”
Similarly, as a child Dr. Beitman found his lost dog after he made a wrong turn in a familiar neighborhood. It was strange for him to go in this direction, yet it led him exactly where he needed to go.
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