Simulation and Visualization of the Positioning System of the Brain in Virtual Reality
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Computers. 2017, 12 (3), 258-269. 10.17706/jcp.12.3.258-269
The goal of this project is to investigate how simulation and 3D visualization in virtual reality can be used to make the human navigation system understandable for the broad public. The research behind the positioning system in the rodent brain was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014. The cells that make up the foundation of this navigation system have been found in many species, and are thought to be similar if not identical in humans. While these results are of significant importance, the underlying concepts might be difficult to understand for non-specialists. To present the positioning system in the brain to a broader audience, an interactive 3D visualization of the major components of this system (including hippocampus, entorhinal cortex, grid and place cells) was created in Second Life. In addition, a simplified simulation of how grid and place cells function was developed using the same platform. This educational demo was presented and evaluated by members of the general public at a number of venues and occasions, including a local science museum. Based on the evaluation results and the related work, we provide a set of recommendations for visualizing and sharing neuroscience-related knowledge in virtual reality.