Pathfinding in the cognitive map: Network models of mechanisms for search and planning

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Department of Cognitive and Learning Sciences


The hippocampus has long been thought to be critical in learning and representing the cognitive map, and thus support functions such as search, pathfinding and route planning. This work aims to demonstrate the utility of hippocampus-based neural networks in modeling human search task behavior. Human solutions to pathfinding problems are generally fast but approximate, in contrast to traditional AI approaches. In this paper, we report data on a human search task, and then examine a set of models, based upon the structure of the hippocampus, which use a goal scent mechanism similar to the optimal pathfinding algorithms used in artificial intelligence systems. We compare five distinct search models, and conclude that a goal scent model driven by multiple goals spread throughout the search space provides the best and most accurate account of the human data. This research suggests a convergence in traditional AI and biologically- inspired approaches to pathfinding that may be mutually beneficial.

Publisher's Statement

© 2013 Elsevier B.V. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Biologically Inspired Cognitive Architectures