How often you use GPS for tracking a route? Have you ever thought that using GPS can actually have an effect on your brain activity? Yes, a new study has demonstrated that the use of GPS navigation to reach your destination can turn off regions of the brain, which would otherwise be utilized to prompt diverse routes.
The study by a research team at University College London, the United Kingdom, had 24 volunteers that navigated a mock-up in central London while going through brain scans. The researchers examined the activity in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus, which are regions of the brain associated with decision-making & planning and navigation & memory, respectively. The maze of the streets of London was also mapped by the researchers to comprehend how these regions responded to them.
When navigation was done manually by the participants, their prefrontal lobe and hippocampus had spikes of activity whenever the participants entered new streets. A higher brain activity was observed when there were more options to select from, whereas no extra activity was observed when the volunteers followed satellite navigation, also known as satnav, commands.
Hugo Spiers said, “If you find it difficult to navigate so many streets present in a city, there is a likelihood of putting high demands on your prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. But when you use technology giving us commands, these brain regions simply do not react to street networks, thus switching off its interest in the surrounding streets.”
Even earlier studies have demonstrated that the hippocampi of the taxi drivers of London increase as they train themselves to memorize the landmarks and streets of central London. The recent study also illustrated that the drivers who follow the commands of satnav do not involve their hippocampus, naturally restricting any learning of the street network of a city.
This is surely worth to be taken into consideration. Don’t you think so?