‘Rank’ by Garry Knight CC BY
In 2012 the Memory Network invited Will Self to participate in new research on spatial navigation and the brain. Self’s novel, The Book of Dave, was informed by similar research which has found that the three-year memorisation of London’s streets undertaken by black cab drivers- ‘the Knowledge’- causes physical changes within the brain and an extraordinary effect on its ability to navigate. The results of the experiments undertaken as part of this research, including the neuroimaging of Self’s brain, prompts questions on the relationship between literature and neuroscience and the effect of new technologies on memory and its role in navigation.
Click here to hear a segment of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme discussing the experiment, including interviews with Self and neuroscientist Hugo Spiers.