Have you ever been people watching and notice how individuals act very differently within a particular space or moment? An extreme example could be how one acts at a Cubs game versus a networking event. Experiences and place can, and should create a strong microculture with its own set of socially agreed upon interactions. These interactions create more memorable places and allow you to interact with others and share your experiences. 


Supporting Documents: Connection to Cognitive Mapping


Sarah Williams Goldhagen on How the Brain Works and What It Means for Architecture

By: Common Edge

“Sarah Williams Goldhagen has taken a big swing. Her new book, Welcome to Your World: How the Built Environment Shapes Our Lives, is nothing less than a meticulously constructed argument for completely rethinking our way of looking at architecture. A longtime critic for The New Republic and a former lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Goldhagen has taken a deep dive into the rapidly advancing field of cognitive science, in an attempt to link it to a new human-centered approach to the built world. The book is both an examination of the science behind cognition (and its relevance to architecture), and a polemic against the stultifying status quo. Recently I talked to the author, who was busy preparing for a year-long trip around the world, about the book, the science, and the state of architectural education.”

“The easiest example relates to long term memory. There was a famous experiment published in 2009 called the London Taxi Drivers study. To be a cabbie in London, you basically have to memorize the layout and street names of the entire city. Acquiring what’s known as “The Knowledge” takes between two and four years. So the researchers did FMRI scans of the cabbies in training before they started building these detailed cognitive maps of the city, then scanned their brains again, once the cabbies had passed the test. They discovered that an area of the brain called the hippocampus had grown enormously. That was a significant finding, in and of itself, because it meant that even in adulthood, the brain changes. We used to think that people’s brains develop and change until they reach maturity, around age 21; then, you more or less had what you had. This and subsequent studies provide concrete evidence that our brains change as we learn, and that one of the properties of the human brain is neural plasticity. And that brain is changing in part in response to your environment.” - Sarah Williams

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Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture


“The mission of the ANFA is to promote and advance knowledge that links neuroscience research to a growing understanding of human responses to the build environment.”

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Psychology in Real Life Latent Learning

By:  Lumen Learning

In our research we found that latent learning and spatial cognitive mapping share principles.  Latent learning was tested by Tolman and Honzik and their experiment with rats in a maze.  Test your knowledge of latent learning on this interactive website!

“Have you ever gotten lost in a building and couldn’t find your way back out? While that can be frustrating, you’re not alone. At one time or another we’ve all gotten lost in places like a museum, hospital, or university library. Whenever we go someplace new, we build a mental representation—or cognitive map—of the location, as Tolman’s rats built a cognitive map of their maze. However, some buildings are confusing because they include many areas that look alike or have short lines of sight. Because of this, it’s often difficult to predict what’s around a corner or decide whether to turn left or right to get out of a building. Psychologist Laura Carlson (2010) suggests that what we place in our cognitive map can impact our success in navigating through the environment. She suggests that paying attention to specific features upon entering a building, such as a picture on the wall, a fountain, a statue, or an escalator, adds information to our cognitive map that can be used later to help find our way out of the building.”

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Memory and Space: Towards an Understanding of the Cognitive Map

By:  Daniela Schiller, Howard Eichenbaum, Elizabeth A. Buffalo, Lila Davachi, David J. Foster, Stefan Leutgeb and Charan Ranganath

“More than 50 years of research have led to the general agreement that the hippocampus contributes to memory, but there has been a major schism among theories of hippocampal function over this time. Some researchers argue that the hippocampus plays a broad role in episodic and declarative memory, whereas others argue for a specific role in the creation of spatial cognitive maps and navigation. Although both views have merit, neither provides a complete account of hippocampal function. Guided by recent reviews that attempt to bridge between these views, here we suggest that reconciliation can be accomplished by exploring hippocampal function from the perspective of Tolman's (1948) original conception of a cognitive map as organizing experience and guiding behavior across all domains of cognition. We emphasize recent studies in animals and humans showing that hippocampal networks support a broad range of domains of cognitive maps, that these networks organize specific experiences within the contextually relevant map, and that network activity patterns reflect behavior guided through cognitive maps. These results are consistent with a framework that bridges theories of hippocampal function by conceptualizing the hippocampus as organizing incoming information within the context of a multidimensional cognitive map of spatial, temporal, and associational context.”

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