Researchers Provide New Insights Into How People Navigate Through the World

The ability to assess surroundings and move through the world is a skill shared by many animals, including humans, yet the brain mechanisms that make it possible are poorly understood.

Now, in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers have offered new insights into how people understand visual scenes and how they figure out which paths to take to navigate through them.

The research was conducted by Russell Epstein, a psychology professor, and postdoc Michael Bonner.

“I was interested in this question,” Bonner says, “because I was thinking about the basic, most fundamental things that humans and other animals use vision for, and it occurred to me that navigation is one of them.”

To investigate this, the researchers conducted two separate experiments. In the first experiment, they created a set of artificially rendered rooms with different arrangements of doorways through which people could exit. In the second experiment, the researchers used images of real-world scenes. In both experiments, the participants were asked to look at the scenes while performing simple visual tasks that had nothing to do with navigation.

Click here to read the full article.

Arts & Sciences News

Michael C. Horowitz Awarded Department of Defense Grant to Lead Team on Study of Autonomous Systems and AI

Michael C. Horowitz, Professor of Political Science, will oversee the study of autonomous systems and artificial intelligence.

View Article >
Earthquakes at the Nanoscale

In collaboration with Robert Carpick and David Goldsby, Tian, who graduated from Penn in 2017 with a doctorate in physics, recently published a paper in Physical Review Letters which attempts to tackle these devastating natural phenomena by investigating the laws of friction at the smallest possible scale, the nanoscale.

View Article >
Doris Wagner Named Robert I. Williams Term Professor

A leader in the fields of plant biology, chromatin modification, and epigenetics, Wagner’s research focuses on understanding at the molecular level the complex changes that occur when an organism switches developmental programs.

View Article >
Wrongful Convictions Reported for 6 Percent of Crimes

A study from Penn criminologists results in the first general estimate for the prison population as a whole.

View Article >
Race Has a Place in Human Genetics Research, Philosopher Argues

Penn philosopher Quayshawn Spencer says there is a racial classification that’s medically useful to reliably sample human genetic diversity.

View Article >
Exploring the Sounds of the Middle Ages

Assistant Professor of Music Mary Channen Caldwell's freshman seminar course, “Hearing (in) the Middle Ages,” explores a range of sounds heard throughout the medieval period, whether produced by people, instruments, bells, or animals.

View Article >