A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Bob Goethe
Date: 2016 Apr 19, 16:59 -0700
>>Maybe us humans still have some vestigual evolutionary ability to navigate by some hidden and largely lost mechanism, preserved and honed by just a few? If Monach Butterflies can do it, maybe we can too?<<
Indeed! However, it is possible that electronic navigation is triggering the shrinking the portion of our brain reponsible for our "vestigial evolutionary ability". Our innate ability to navigate may be atrophying.
There are two major ways of navigating: by spatial navigation or by stimulus-response methods. The spatial method uses landmarks and visual cues to develop cognitive maps that enable us to know where we are and how to get where we want to go. The second method relies on repeatedly traveling by the most efficient route, as though on auto-pilot. The second method will be familiar to those using GPS.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans were taken of older adults who were GPS and non-GPS users. The subjects accustomed to navigating by spatial means were found to have higher activity and a greater volume of grey matter in the hippocampus than those used to relying on GPS. These adults also did better on a standardized test used in the diagnosis of mild cognitive impairment, which often precedes the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.