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Photo: Spencer Platt
Photo: Spencer Platt

Blame your GPS for your bad sense of direction

If you're using GPS navigation, it could be dulling your sense of direction, and not even the wisdom of Yoda can protect you.

"Continue on this route. Then, at your destination, you will arrive. Yes, feel the force now, do you?" asked the voice of Yoda in a VoiceSkins demo.

Citing multiple navigational studies, a correspondent for Nature says navigation is a use-it-or-lose-it skill.

Put simply: When our eyes and ears are trained on our smartphones, they're not aware of the outside world, and we start to lose our ability to navigate.

On the other hand, when we do train our navigational skills, the human brain physically responds. In one study, the memory-retaining portion of the brain — the hippocampus — literally grew in size after taxi drivers committed routes to memory.

So what's the takeaway? It's really quite simple: A spatial cognition psychologist at Tufts University suggests you pay attention to your environment.

GPS is handy, but there are cognitive downsides to relying solely on technology-based navigation.

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