Connecting places geographically causes mental maps to merge

UCL News:

Realising how places connect geographically causes local maps in the brain to join, forming one big map which helps with planning future journeys, finds a new UCL study.

Changes like this can occur when people vary their route to work during a tube strike, for example. Commuters may be familiar with the location of two underground stations but only realise how one is linked to the other by walking between them. Knowing how the stations are connected can then be used to decide which route to take next time.

It’s an interesting feeling when two seemingly non-contiguous regions — hitherto mapped only during separate routines — end up connecting together. Something in your mind clicks, and you can actually feel the connection being made as the fog of war lifts to reveal a little bit more of the map.