JacobsFig3_pmt copyIn earlier work, our group studied how knowledge of a species’s cognitive niche (the ecology of its species, sex and age) can predict patterns of cognitive abilities and brain structure, in particular the hippocampus. We formalized such patterns in the parallel map theory, an evolutionary model of navigation and the evolution of the hippocampus in vertebrates (Jacobs & Schenk, 2003). Here Edward Tolman’s cognitive map is an integration of parallel spatial representations of space, the bearing and the sketch maps, constructed by complementary hippocampal subfields. This creates a flexible and robust cognitive structure for orientation in mammals and we have extended this analysis to birds and other vertebrates (Jacobs & Menzel, 2014). Recently, I have re-interpreted the parallel map theory of hippocampal function in light of olfactory navigation, proposing that the main function of the olfactory system of vertebrates is to form the foundation of the cognitive map, with a robust and flexible parallel map architecture (Jacobs, 2012).