An observational instead of experimental study on direction and place recognition

Occasionally a study appears in the Psychological and Cognitive Sciences section of PNAS that isn’t much more than graduate students wasting resources. This 2015 Pennsylvania rodent study was such an item.

The study’s design was observational, and it couldn’t be used as a reliable source to make statements of fact. Yet the researchers hyped that their:

“Finding has important implications for understanding the cognitive architecture underlying spatial navigation.

A similar cognitive architecture may underlie human navigational behavior.”

No reason was provided for not experimentally exploring the “cognitive architecture underlying spatial navigation.” So the study’s results didn’t advance science concerning grid cells, hippocampal place cells, head direction cells, boundary cells, and cells that encode object locations, as did the research referenced in the Are hippocampal place cells controlled by theta brain waves from grid cells? study.

It seemed to me that one of the researchers recognized this lack when they referred to new research instead of this study in one of the covering news articles. We’ll see what the graduate students do next. “Place recognition and heading retrieval are mediated by dissociable cognitive systems in mice”

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