Human ‘homing instinct’ region of brain identified

Birds and other migratory animals have long been the subject of study because of their ability to return after traveling extraordinarily long distances away from a point of origin. This innate ability, known as a homing instinct, can also be found in humans, as new research from University College London (UCL) in the UK suggests. SEE ALSO: Top 9 ways to exercise your brain! The finding explains why some people have a better sense of direction than others. According to the research, homing instinct in humans varies in strength since mankind has long since evolved away from needing this ability, but most people experience it in some degree. Homing instinct in humans not only tells use which direction we are facing, like a compass, it tells use which direction we need to go in order to reach our destination. The research expands on groundbreaking discoveries made in earlier this year on how nerve cells process where the body is in a space and help to navigate it. The use of “grid cells” in the brain help the body go from point A to point B, but the new evidence suggests the same region of the brain, the entorhinal region, is associated with a sense of direction. “Studies on London cab drivers have shown that the first thing they do when they work out a route is calculate which direction they need to head in,” said Dr. Hugo Spiers, senior lecturer in UCL’s Department of Experimental Psychology, to MNT. “We now know that the entorhinal cortex is responsible for such calculations, and the quality of signals from this region seems to determine how good someone’s navigational skills will be.” Much remains to be seen regarding the human homing signal, however, though researchers understand which cells are responsible for mapping a space and navigating it, the exact function of directional sense requires more study. It’s possible that humans, like birds and other animals, are influenced by the Earth’s magnetic fields, and that is what ultimately determines navigation. “Further research indicates that while birds can sense the north and south ends of a compass, they cannot tell the difference between the two,” state materials from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “To determine which direction is north, the birds apparently have the capability to sense that the magnetic lines of force align toward the poles of the earth. They can also detect the dip in the lines of force as they approach the earth and, through some currently unknown method, seem to be able to detect and make navigational decisions based on the dip angle.” SEE ALSO: 5 ways to improve your brain health Is the human homing signal this advanced? It is unlikely that humans will ever have as strong of a homing ability as birds. As technology advances, humans have lost the need for certain abilities like homing. As with everything, the old saying is true: if you don’t use it, you eventually lose it.The post Human ‘homing instinct’ region of brain identified appeared first on Voxxi.

Do humans have a homing instinct like migratory birds? (Shutterstock)

Birds and other migratory animals have long been the subject of study because of their ability to return after traveling extraordinarily long distances away from a point of origin. This innate ability, known as a homing instinct, can also be found in humans, as new research from University College London (UCL) in the UK suggests.

SEE ALSO: Top 9 ways to exercise your brain!

The finding explains why some people have a better sense of direction than others.

According to the research, homing instinct in humans varies in strength since mankind has long since evolved away from needing this ability, but most people experience it in some degree. Homing instinct in humans not only tells use which direction we are facing, like a compass, it tells use which direction we need to go in order to reach our destination.

The research expands on groundbreaking discoveries made in earlier this year on how nerve cells process where the body is in a space and help to navigate it. The use of “grid cells” in the brain help the body go from point A to point B, but the new evidence suggests the same region of the brain, the entorhinal region, is associated with a sense of direction.

“Studies on London cab drivers have shown that the first thing they do when they work out a route is calculate which direction they need to head in,” said Dr. Hugo Spiers, senior lecturer in UCL’s Department of Experimental Psychology, to MNT. “We now know that the entorhinal cortex is responsible for such calculations, and the quality of signals from this region seems to determine how good someone’s navigational skills will be.”

A compass can save your life
It remains to be seen if the human homing instinct operates on magnetic fields like other internal compasses. (Shutterstock)

Much remains to be seen regarding the human homing signal, however, though researchers understand which cells are responsible for mapping a space and navigating it, the exact function of directional sense requires more study. It’s possible that humans, like birds and other animals, are influenced by the Earth’s magnetic fields, and that is what ultimately determines navigation.

“Further research indicates that while birds can sense the north and south ends of a compass, they cannot tell the difference between the two,” state materials from The Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “To determine which direction is north, the birds apparently have the capability to sense that the magnetic lines of force align toward the poles of the earth. They can also detect the dip in the lines of force as they approach the earth and, through some currently unknown method, seem to be able to detect and make navigational decisions based on the dip angle.”

SEE ALSO: 5 ways to improve your brain health

Is the human homing signal this advanced? It is unlikely that humans will ever have as strong of a homing ability as birds. As technology advances, humans have lost the need for certain abilities like homing. As with everything, the old saying is true: if you don’t use it, you eventually lose it.

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The post Human ‘homing instinct’ region of brain identified appeared first on Voxxi.