Excessive GPS Use for Directions May Diminish Certain Brain Functions
In today’s connected world, few people venture forth without their mobile GPS maps to guide them safely to their destination. But some studies suggest the ubiquitous use of directional apps is diminishing our brain power, at least in the region of gray matter used for navigating our spatial environment.
The hippocampus is a part of that brain that helps individuals determine where they are and how they can get to their next destination. This brain region is highly susceptible to experience, research finds.
One famous study of the hippocampus looked at licensed London taxi drivers, who must memorize directions to thousands of different destinations in the city. Researcher revealed the hippocampus in these cabbies was significantly larger compared with others in a control group.
Conversely, another study found that excessive use of GPS technology may lead to atrophy of the hippocampus, which could put individuals at higher risk of cognitive decline later in life.
Fortunately, there are ways to give your hippocampus a good workout. Pharmacists can recommend their patients occasionally turn off the GPS map and pull out an old fashion paper one. They also can assure them not to worry if they get lost on occasion. The mental exercise of finding one’s way back to familiar ground can be good for your brain.