'Satellite navigation aids like Google Maps could be damaging people’s brains and may even contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, a navigation expert has warned.
David Barrie, CBE, a former British diplomat, who has written extensively on natural navigation, said that humans had developed an acute sense of their surroundings and place in the world over hundreds of thousands of years which was now being lost as technology takes over.
And he said he was concerned that GPS was preventing people building up the resilience that their brains needed in later life.
In Alzheimer’s the hippocampus is one of the first areas to deteriorate, taking away a person’s ability to remember directions, and navigate.
Speaking at The Hay Festival, Mr Barrie said it was ‘very sad’ to see people with their heads down following smartphone maps.
“Crucially as we become more and more dependent on these electronic gadgets to find out way around we are becoming more and more cut off from the natural world,” he said.
“This sense of emersion in nature, and losing yourself in the natural world and the extraordinary rewards that come from that, well you lose that.
“There may be deeper problems too. The parts of your brain that may be responsible for your ability to navigate need exercise and if they are not exercised they literally shrink.
“It’s quite possible that people who fall victim to Alzheimer’s disease, which first typically manifests itself in the shape of disorientation, their hippocampus has already shrunk from lack of use or has considerably less resilience for coping with the onslaught of disease. So that’s actually quite a good reason to want to maintain those parts of the brain by exercising them.”'
Read more: Google Maps increases risk of developing Alzheimer's, expert warns
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