So the latest research has found that driving with a sat-nav on causes reduced brain activity. Well I am all sure we are surprised at that.
Apparently, in tests, the spikes in activity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain area linked to memory and navigation and the prefrontal cortex, which is involved in planning and decision-making, typical when people were making decisions about what road to take, were absent when people just followed the directions of their sat-nav.
I rarely use a sat-nav, for various reasons. The main one is that I don’t trust it – or rather I don’t trust me! So I say that I don’t trust the technology but then I am happy to get on a plane that is probably running on auto-pilot. Seems as though I am being a hypocrite. But no – it’s more that I don’t trust myself to set it properly. This dates from my first attempt to use one that kept on defaulting to Glasgow and another time, towing a trailer, when it took me to the centre of Leicester, rather than round it, and then decided it was my destination and left me stranded.
But, possibly because of this, I worry about blindly following the instructions barked at me, and then having no idea of where I am. I grew up with maps and I would rather have an atlas beside me, and a list of the main roads or town I have to go through so I always know where I am.
It can be an issue when I am giving talks and trying to find a village hall but I prefer to use my ‘common sense’ or internal compass.
I can see the attraction of just following a voice that tells you what to do. I can see why people use them but it is just another example of us being removed from reality. And when it is recommended to do puzzles to keep our brains active we then all drive round with our brains switched off. That can’t be good.
Is it to do with the seeming obsession many people have for looking at little screens? I am really worried about the obsession with smart phones. Isn’t it better to see life in the real rather than through an iphone? It all reminds me of an episode of Star Trek; The Next Generation (The Game) when an addictive computer game was brought on board that turned the crew into zombies, unable to do anything meaningful. At the time (1991) it seemed far fetched but, alas, it seemed to have been prophetic.