Text Patterns - by Alan Jacobs

Sunday, June 6, 2010

more from Nick Carr

Are Google Maps and GPS bad for our brains?:
Véronique Bohbot, a professor of psychiatry at McGill University in Montreal, has done extensive research demonstrating the connection between the size of the hippocampus and the degree to which we employ our navigational skills. She worries that, should our hippocampi begin to atrophy from a lack of use in navigation, the result could be a loss of memory and a growing long-term risk of dementia. 'Society is geared in many ways toward shrinking the hippocampus,' she said in an interview with journalist Alex Hutchinson last year. 'In the next twenty years, I think we're going to see dementia occurring earlier and earlier.'


  • That may be the single silliest thing I've read in memory (assuming my hippocampus hasn't already atrophied).

    I am aware that there are occasional idiots who stick their nose in a GPS sytem, follow it blithely without checking to see if the real world matches, and walk into the middle of traffic or drive the wrong way down a one-way street. But for most of humanity, using Google Maps and GPS actively engages navigation skills - just in a somewhat different way than map-free navigation.

    Glad we now understand what's so queer about big modern cities. New York, London, Paris and Tokyo must be filled with dementia victims who have turned their navigation function over to subway train drivers and allowed their hippocampus to atrophy. Sheesh!

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