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CyberGIS Center Brown Bag - Dr. Frances Wang - Getting lost during navigation: the unconscious processes

CyberGIS Center Brown Bag - Dr. Frances Wang - Getting lost during navigation: the unconscious processes


Navigation is the cognitive activity shown by most animals to remember and go to a specific location.  It is common belief that there are two main schemes to accomplish navigation.  The “lower” species such as insects use a primitive method called path integration, while the “higher” animals develop an advanced, fundamentally different system called cognitive map.

However, an alternative view is that the cognitive map evolved directly from the path integration system and is basically the same thing.  In this talk I will discuss how path integration works, how a collection of them can produce a mental map, the properties of such a navigation system that lead to people easily getting lost in certain environments, and how to overcome those difficulties.


Frances Wang received her PhD from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1999 in Computational Cognitive Sciences and is currently a professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois.  Dr. Wang's research focuses on various aspects of visual and spatial cognition, including navigation and spatial memory, object and scene recognition, human comprehension of four-dimensional space, and visual threshold.  She has published over 60 journal articles and book chapters, and has been a member of the editorial board for Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory & Cognition, Memory & Cognition, and Spatial Cognition & Computation. Dr. Wang received the A. O. Beckman Research Award in 2000 and 2010 and was appointed as an associate of the Center for Advanced Study in 2012.

About the CyberGIS Center Brown Bag Series: The CyberGIS Center Brown Bag Series is a bi-weekly series that brings together researchers from across the University of Illinois, Urbana - Champaign campus to speak about topics that are of intest to the local GIS community.

For more information  about the CyberGIS Center visit

Tuesday, April 14, 2015