Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lost? You're Not Alone

We all have those moments where we feel like we need to take a moment and get oriented. We get off the bus in a new town, look around, feel an urge to look at our map, compass, GPS, whatever. For most people, this is the extent of it. You get your bearings, and off you go. Maybe you circle the block once, but you get where you need to go.

If you click on the "navigation" label, you will see pretty much how my process works - it can be a lot of fun.

But there are those who simply will never be able to find their way around. They are the perennially lost. We joke about it, but a new study shows that there is a developmental brain disorder that is the root cause of this disability. Researchers have "documented the first case of a patient who, without apparent brain damage or cognitive impairment, is unable to orient within any environment."

"When moving through an environment – familiar or not – a person creates a mental representation of the environment, called a cognitive map. It is the ability to "create" and "read" these cognitive maps that enables a person to navigate by following a route without getting lost."

The inability to create these cognitive maps causes this "topographical disorientation."

There is a website specifically designed to inform people about orientation skills and to reach others who experience topographical disorientation, GettingLost

No comments: