EEG Patterns and Performance When Facing the Cardinal Directions

  •  Frederick T. Travis    
  •  Jonathan B. Lipman    
  •  Niyazi Parim    
  •  Peter L. Hodak    
  •  Jacqueline J. Leete    


1) Background and Objectives: Position in space and passage of time are encoded in the firing of thalamic, hippocampal and entorhinal cortices in rodents. Head direction cells have been reported in freely moving monkeys, and differential brain patterns have been observed in humans while playing a navigation video game and in response to changes in electromagnetic fields. The sensitivity of organisms to environmental and electromagnetic cues could explain recommendations from a traditional system of architecture, Vastu architecture, which recommends aligning homes to the cardinal directions. 2) Hypothesis: Vastu architecture predicts that facing east and north are more advantageous than facing west and south. If facing east and north are more advantageous, then subjects should show distinct EEG patterns and improved performance when facing east and north compared to west or south. 3) Materials and Methods: EEG coherence patterns from 32-channel EEG and time-to-complete jigsaw puzzles were compared while subjects faced the four cardinal directions. 4) Results: When facing east and north, subjects’ frontal beta2 and gamma EEG coherence were significantly higher, and they assembled jigsaw puzzles significantly faster than when facing west or south. 5) Discussion: The brain findings fit the performance data. Better focus, which would reasonably be related with faster performance, is associated with higher levels of beta2 and gamma coherence. 6) Conclusion: These data support the possibility that the human brain may be sensitive to cardinal directions. This highlights how intimately we are connected to the environment and suggests a factor that may be important in orienting work spaces and designing class rooms.

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