Remember Paper Maps?

When is the last time you had to re-fold a map? Or learn how to read an atlas? Global positioning systems (GPS) can trace their roots all the way to Sputnik, the first satellite to orbit the earth in 1957. Now it seems like we be lost without our vehicles and phones telling us where to go, figuratively and literally. Is there a downside to being dependent on GPS navigation? Recent studies say yes. Dependency on GPS has a negative effect on the hippocampus part of the brain. We are not using it as much as we used to.

What’s a Hippocampus?

The hippocampus is a horseshoe shaped part of the brain. Its job is to process long term memory, emotional response, and is responsible for the memory of objects, people and locations. Without it we wouldn’t be able to remember where we live. Recent studies have suggested that drivers who rely on GPS on a regular bases do not use their hippocampus which creates a dependency. It limits their ability to develop an internal map, which means you won’t remember the route even though you just drove there.


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GPS Shuts Off Part of Our Brain

An article in The Truth About Cars, an experiment done by the University College London relating to GPS dependency. They studied brain activity in people who were on unfamiliar routes and had to figure out their own path compared to people following a planned route. The results showed that brains who were following GPS directions showed zero activity in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for decision-making.

Hugo Spiers, the director of science at Centric labs, weighed in to explain these results. He stated, “The Hippocampus simulates journeys on future possible paths, while the prefrontal cortex helps us to plan which ones will get us to our destination. When we have technology telling us which way to go, however, these parts of the brain simply don’t respond to the street network. In that sense our brain has switched off its interest in the streets around us.”

Case in point, when we use a GPS our brain isn’t not trying to learn the route. It’s merely following directions. When we get lost on the road we exercise these parts of the brain. Even getting frustrated when we can’t find the place we need to be is a good workout for your mind’s grey matter. A brain’s grey matter contains most of its neuronal cell bodies.

GPS Car Accidents

Over the years there has been a number of car accidents that support the theory that our brains hits the snooze button when following a GPS. In 2011, a three people rented a luxury SUV in Seattle. The GPS took them on a route that rerouted them down a boat ramp near a swamp. Instead of questioning the GPS’s accuracy they drove the SUV straight into the water and became submerged. No injuries were reported but car accidents could happen when utilizing GPS.

In 2009, a woman was using Google Maps to find the best walking route to a destination. When Google Maps directed her to a four lane highway she proceeded to cross it with full faith in her GPS. She was struck by a vehicle and was hospitalized for her injuries. A year later she filed a lawsuit against Google Maps, and the driver who hit her, for $100,000 in pain and suffering. She claimed that Google Maps was negligent in providing her with unsafe directions. She lost the case based on the fact that Google Maps offers a disclaimer and warning.

During heavy rainstorms a river can become rain-swollen and pose a risk to roads near it. In 2007, a woman was listening to the GPS in her vehicle and ignored signs warning her about a road that lead to a rain-swollen river. She proceeded to drive directly into the river, via her GPS’s instructions. The car was swept away from the current until an eye witnessed came to her rescue. It took crews a several days to recover her submerged car.

Call a Personal Injury Attorney after a Car Accident

In the event of an accident it is recommend that you seek legal advice from a trusted a lawyer. They can help you put your life back on track by fighting with insurance companies to get you the cash settlement you deserve. The cash settlement you need to pay for unexpected medical bills, time loss from work and repairs or replacement of the vehicle damaged in the wreck. That is why Davis Law Firm is here 4 you! We are here 24/7 to listen to your case. Our team of personal injury legal representatives offer free consultations at no risk to you. Jeff Davis is the San Antonio Personal Injury Lawyer that is here 4 you! Contact us today. We have offices in San Antonio, Corpus Christi, McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville and Waco, Texas!  Call the 4’s or don’t waste time and call the 9’s!  210-444-4444 / 956-444-4444 / 361-999-9999.