Building a cognitive map by assembling multiple path integration systems

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Path integration and cognitive mapping are two of the most important mechanisms for navigation. Path integration is a primitive navigation system which computes a homing vector based on an animal’s self-motion estimation, while cognitive map is an advanced spatial representation containing richer spatial information about the environment that is persistent and can be used to guide flexible navigation to multiple locations. Most theories of navigation conceptualize them as two distinctive, independent mechanisms, although the path integration system may provide useful information for the integration of cognitive maps. This paper demonstrates a fundamentally different scenario, where a cognitive map is constructed in three simple steps by assembling multiple path integrators and extending their basic features. The fact that a collection of path integration systems can be turned into a cognitive map suggests the possibility that cognitive maps may have evolved directly from the path integration system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)692-702
Number of pages11
JournalPsychonomic Bulletin and Review
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2016


  • Cognitive map
  • Evolution
  • Navigation
  • Path integration
  • Spatial updating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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