Development of an innate ability to know where we are in relation to our surroundings—a critical survival skill rooted in the workings of a complex set of neural circuits—stands as a major triumph of evolution. In the January Scientific American two Nobel laureates—May-Britt Moser and Edvard I. Moser—describe both the discovery of the brain’s internal navigation system and its inner workings.

This system, which encompasses complex interactions of place, grid, border, speed and head-direction cells, provides a fascinating glimpse into the intricate symphonic collaboration of neural circuitry that produces a cognitive map of the world around us. Watch the Mosers discuss their work: