According to McGill University researchers, relying on GPS to navigate may have a negative effect on brain function, especially on the hippocampus, which is involved in memory and navigation processes. Simply put, hippocampus is something involved in memory and in navigation processes, which also can be seen as the ability to find new routes and identify short cuts. “It is one of the first areas of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease, which results in memory loss and difficulties in spatial orientation,” said by Lin Edwards(2010).

An earlier study by University of London researchers showed that in London taxi drivers, who spend three years learning their way by spatial methods rather than GPS. part of their hippocampus is larger than in a control group of non-taxi drivers. So, the case tells us that using spatial memory regularly may improve the function of the hippocampus and could help ward off cognitive impairment as we age.

It may be wise to restrict GPS use to an aid in finding the way to a new destination, but to turn it off the way back or when going somewhere that is not new. Neuroscientist Veronique Bohbot of McGill University in Montreal, Canada, said building cognitive maps takes time and effort, but with the hippocampus, it may be a case of “use it or lose it.”

Reference:

Edwards, L,.(2010) Study suggests reliance on GPS may reduce hippocampus function as we age. [Online] available at: http://phys.org/news/2010-11-reliance-gps-hippocampus-function-age.html

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