Sunday, March 18, 2012

Study Shows When GPS is On, Your Brain Isn’t

GPS ford warning

We have all heard stories of people who have nearly driven off cliffs or become hopelessly lost following wayward directions from their GPS devices, and so we began to wonder why–and it turns out we aren’t the only ones. An NPR article published last month outlines a study conducted in London testing how people made navigational choices walking through the winding streets of London’s Soho district.

The finds are pretty technical, explaining how different parts of the brain react to different decisions regarding compass directions to locations and then which street to take to get there. But the most interesting part of the research indicated that while three or four different parts of your brain are active when deciding which direction you need to take to get to the airport, with GPS navigation available, those parts of your brain aren’t active. In other words, with GPS, your brain checks out and lets the computer do the work for you–which to me, seems like recipe to get lost.

The study said that after a day of studying a map, participants (both male and female) chose the correct path about 75% of the time, which isn’t super impressive. So are we better off checking out of the navigational process all together and relying on the more and more advanced GPS satellites to help us find our way around? Or is half of the journey getting there (or getting lost)?


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