The recent years have brought into the forefront of cognitive neuroscience a mechanistic representation of the world in the cognitive system – cognitive maps. A “zoo” of different cells transforms the immediate experience of wandering in the environment into a maplike representation, written again and again in specific brain structures. Here we claim that another component is crucial for forming and interpreting these maps – the experiential and imaginary self. Through the concept of mental travel we explain how the self may be projected prior to the use of cognitive maps and how the world is referred to the self through the cognitive map. Biases and influences of the self may further affect the maps formation and interpretation. The concept of mental orientation is then suggested to include the experiencing self and the way in which it relates to the environment, as represented on cognitive maps, not only in spatial navigation but also in the processing of time (memories and plans), people (social world), and even abstract concepts.
|Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology
|Cambridge University Press