Geography and the Brain’s Spatial System (Short Paper)

Authors May Yuan , Kristen Kennedy

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Author Details

May Yuan
  • Geospatial Information Sciences, The University of Texas at Dallas, TX, USA
Kristen Kennedy
  • Cognition and Neuroscience, The University of Texas at Dallas, TX, USA

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May Yuan and Kristen Kennedy. Geography and the Brain’s Spatial System (Short Paper). In 12th International Conference on Geographic Information Science (GIScience 2023). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 277, pp. 89:1-89:7, Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2023)


Extensive research in spatial cognition and mobility has advanced our knowledge about the effects of geographic settings on human behaviors. This study, however, takes an alternative perspective to examine how the brain’s spatial system may mediate the geographic effects on spatial behaviors. Our previous research using data from OpenStreetMap, SafeGraph POIs, and human participants from the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center (NACC) resulted in a model with 83.33% prediction accuracy from geographic settings to the zonal categorization of the cognitive state based on NACC participants. A follow-up study showed that the complexity of a geographic setting has a direct effect on cortical thickness in the brain’s spatial cell system. In this study, we leverage findings from the two studies and interrogate the geographic settings to discern environmental correlates to zonal cognitive categorization. We conclude with thoughts on the implications of brain-inspired GIScience.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Applied computing → Psychology
  • Applied computing → Health informatics
  • Brain
  • geographic complexity
  • mild cognitive impairment
  • Alzheimer’s Disease


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