Science & Technology

Our brain does not choose the shortest route between the two points-they choose the “highest point” route

A study by (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) seems to suggest that our brain is not the most effective navigation tool out there. Studies show that people navigating cities tend not to follow the shortest path possible, the straightest path possible, but even if they end up walking long distances, they are most likely to reach their destination. Tend to follow.

The image is via AIXabay.

The team calls this the “most pointed road” approach. In technical terms, it is known as vector-based navigation. It also shows that animals, from the simplest to the most complex, use the same strategy in different experiments. The authors believe that the animal brain has evolved to use vector-based navigation. This is not the most effective approach, but it is much easier to implement computationally and saves time and energy.

General direction

“There seems to be a trade-off that allows the computing power in the brain to be used for other purposes, 30,000 years ago, to avoid lions, or now to avoid dangerous SUVs,” said Urban Technology. Said Carloratti, a professor of. Director of MIT’s Urban Studies Planning Division and Senseable City Laboratory.

“Vector-based navigation does not generate the shortest path, but it is close enough to the shortest path and very easy to calculate.”

The findings are based on a dataset that contains routes for more than 14,000 people living their daily lives in an urban environment. These records were one-year anonymized GPS signals from pedestrians in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and San Francisco, California. Overall, it contains over 550,000 paths.

The overwhelming majority did not use the shortest route, judging by where they left and their destination. However, we chose a route that minimizes the derivation of the angle from the destination. I chose the route that points to the most advanced location.

“Instead of calculating the minimum distance, we found that the most predictive model was not the one that finds the shortest path, but the one that tries to minimize the angular displacement. Even when moving at a larger angle. It points directly to the destination as much as possible. In fact, it is more efficient, “said Paolo Santi, a senior researcher at the Senseable City Lab and the Italian National Research Council and the corresponding author of this paper. “We have proposed to call this the sharpest path.”

Pedestrians have adopted this navigation strategy in both Boston and Cambridge, which have complex street layouts, and San Francisco, which has a highly organized grid-style layout. In both cases, the team notes that pedestrians also tend to follow different routes when going back and forth between the two points. Ratty explains that such results are expected if pedestrians “determine based on the angle to their destination” rather than just determining distance.

“You can’t download a detailed distance-based map to your brain, so how else are you going to do that? More natural may be more useful information available to us from our experience. Maybe, “says Tenenbaum. “Thinking in terms of reference points, landmarks, and angles is very natural for building algorithms for mapping and navigating space, based on what we have learned from our experience traveling around the world. It’s a way. “

Sure, it’s fun, but such discoveries may seem a bit trivial. But the authors are more than ever able to understand how our own brains calculate the world around us as we become more dependent on computers such as smartphones for our daily tasks. I believe it will be important. This allows you to design better software and improve your quality of life by tailoring your device to the way your mind and brain work.

The treatise “Vector-based pedestrian navigation in cities” Release In the journal Nature Computational Science..

Our brain does not choose the shortest route between the two points-they choose the “highest point” route Our brain does not choose the shortest route between the two points-they choose the “highest point” route

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