Research Seminar: 10th May 2016

Constructing the Cognitive Map

In order to experience and take action in the ‘external’ world, the brain constructs an internal world to help us navigate, form memories, and interact with our surroundings. Amongst other factors, this process is guided and influenced by architecture. One may not actively focus on the built environment constantly, however architecture shapes perception, expectations, and (inter)actions and in my research I am concerned with what happens in the brain as one explores space and constructs a mental representation of architecture.

In this talk, I will provide an overview of neuroscience relevant to how the brain constructs a neural representation of space and then describe a cross-disciplinary experiment we are currently running at Spierslab at UCL, which investigates how this internal representation allows us to navigate space, engage with objects, and form spatial memories and imaginations.

I will conclude by offering a few thoughts on how cognitive neuroscience and psychology can inform and further architectural design and how our perception of space and psychological state is moulded by the architecture that surrounds us.

Fiona Zisch

3.00pm to 4.00pm in 01AC02

Fiona Zisch is an architect, researcher, and architectural lecturer at the University of Innsbruck, the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, and the University of Westminster. She is currently finishing a transdisciplinary PhD in architecture and neuroscience at University College London. Her research focuses on how neural mechanisms construct our experience of space and what implications neuroscientific knowledge holds for architectural design. Fiona uses a combination of technologies in her research, including EEG technology, laser scanning, and mobile tracking technologies. She has organised and spoken at a range of international conferences in both architecture and spatial cognition / neuroscience and has published work in both areas. Fiona co-founded Holon Architecture Laboratory (with Clemens Plank and Michael Wihart), the Ministry of Mind and Matter (with Camila Sotomayor), and GRAPH (with Harriet Harris).

For more information please contact Dr Birgitta Gatersleben