Exploring the environmental navigation techniques of traditional culture



Traditional navigation techniques from around the world, some of which have been used for thousands of years, can inform Western science, according to research from UCL and the University of York.

night sky

This new review paper, published in Trends in Cognitive Sciences, explores everything from Marshall Islands sailors who use wave patterns to navigate the vast Pacific Ocean to Alaskan Native communities who use the stars to find their way. It sheds new light on the amazing navigational skills of these cultures. Beyond the Yukon.

This highlights the overlooked role of culture and its close connection to the environment in the art and science of finding one’s way in a complex landscape where there are often no trails or landmarks, and where mistakes can be fatal. It highlights connections.

The study’s authors say these unique ways to solve navigation challenges provide important new insights into how navigation is understood in cognitive science research.

Co-lead author of the study, Dr Pablo Fernández-Velasco (University of York and UCL Psychology and Language Sciences), said: ‘The navigational feats described in our paper suggest that highly skilled It seems incredible to many of us who rely on directions because it explains some of the ways to find your way. With GPS, you can find your way almost anywhere.

“The great techniques we explored are at risk of being lost in a world that relies heavily on technology and faces rapid changes in the natural environment due to climate change. Many cultures are particularly susceptible to rising sea levels, changing landscapes, and weather patterns.

“Our research changes the way we think about how the brain remembers the location of objects, rather than focusing only on how our minds store those memories. Instead, Western science needs to start looking at navigation as a dynamic, action-oriented skill that combines various elements: different senses, ways of thinking, and problem-solving strategies. ”

This review presents navigation techniques that use a variety of skills and senses from 49 populations in 30 countries around the world.

Co-lead author Professor Hugo Spiers (UCL Psychology and Language Sciences) said: “We have created the first world map to reveal where these different traditional communities were located and the diversity of their reported environments.” It was a pleasure to be able to do this, and I hope this will help future researchers in their explorations.” This topic”

The methods introduced in this study include:

  • Marshall Islands sailors use wave maneuvering to navigate the open waters of the Pacific Ocean. The navigator determines an initial course based on knowledge of the island’s configuration and uses changes in the canoe’s rhythmic movement to sense changes in wave patterns.
  • The Gwich’in Indian community of northern Alaska uses the stars to find their way across the vast Yukon Plains. This unusual strategy involves looking at the night sky and projecting various stars onto the attributes of the mythical fox-like creature Yahudi. The stars form the tail, legs, or nose of the Yahudi, each guiding the traveler to different regions of the plains.
  • For the Batek people of Malaysia, auditory cues such as bird calls help them know where they are in the rainforest. This is an important skill because the rainforest becomes visually impenetrable after a few meters.

The study also focuses on the techniques of professionals who follow local navigational traditions in Western culture and urban environments, such as licensed taxi drivers in London. Without GPS, a taxi driver needs to be able to plan the shortest route between her two locations in a city with approximately 26,000 streets.

To do this, they combine two types of visualization techniques. One draws a map of London from a bird’s eye view and graphs subgoals along it, and the other uses on-the-fly experience to simulate his view of the route.

Dr. Fernández-Velasco continued, “From the maze-like streets of London to the southeast coast of Greenland, there are consistent studies showing how the diversity of human landscapes is reflected in the diversity of nautical cultures.” We found evidence that current research on navigation in the cognitive domain does not reflect this diversity.

“Future research will not only help us better understand human behavior, but also help us understand and preserve the incredibly rich seafaring cultures that play a key role in connecting people to their local environments. It also helps revive and adapt.”

/Open to the public. This material from the original organization/author may be of a contemporary nature and has been edited for clarity, style, and length. Mirage.News does not take any institutional position or stance, and all views, positions, and conclusions expressed herein are solely those of the authors. Read the full text here.

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