Using GPS to Get Around Is Making Us Dumber





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Published on Apr 30, 2017

GPS services have made getting from point A to point B a lot easier, but what effects does this have on our brains?

How Do Animals Find Their Way Home Without GPS? - https://youtu.be/5qHRxvIqHWw
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This New GPS Map Is Tailor-Made for City Walking
"There's no denying that using GPS to get from point A to point B is incredibly convenient, yet we've all found ourselves cursing Google or Apple Maps for leading us astray, the automated voice insisting 'this is the fastest route,' despite a 'Dead End' sign up ahead. This situation can be equally as frustrating for pedestrians, especially for wheelchair users or others with mobility issues. Neither Google nor Apple Maps provide information on sidewalk interruptions, curb cuts or safe crossings."

This Is Your Brain on GPS Navigation
"We've all come to rely on smartphones and in-car GPS systems to find our way in the world. But when we follow their directions, the parts of our brain usually used for navigation appear to sit idle. A series of experiments performed by researchers at University College London had volunteers navigate simulations of the area known as Soho in the U.K.'s capital, while fMRI scans captured their brain activity. Sometimes they had to find their own routes, other times they were fed turn-by-turn directions similar to those given by a car's GPS or a smartphone."

In-car gps navigation: engagement with and disengagement from the environment
"Although in-car GPS navigation technology is proliferating, it is not well understood how its use alters the ways people interpret their environment and navigate through it. We argue that GPS-based car navigation might disengage people from their surrounding environment, but also has the potential to open up novel ways to engage with it. We present an ethnographically-informed study with GPS users, showing evidence for practices of disengagement as well as new opportunities for engagement, illustrating our findings using rich descriptions from the field."


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Special thanks to Sapna Parikh for hosting this episode of Seeker!
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Written By: Lauren Ellis


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