SFH #43: Ditch Your GPS 📱

How you can promote better brain health through using your spatial memory

As I was landing in NYC this morning from my redeye out of Portland, I pondered how I would get to my destination in FiDi from the airport. Simple question. My maps app will surely give me the best available routes with updated real-time traffic and estimated arrivals whether I chose to train, car, bike, walk, and even a helicopter in the financial capital of the world. 🗽 We are truly privileged in our modern lifestyles. We are more connected, so we have more available information to utilize and make educated (hopefully 🤪 ) decisions in our lives. And today, I wanted to talk about one particular diminishing return on our connectedness and the cost: navigating by GPS.

The map reader of our brain is a specialized region just for navigating our spatial environment—the hippocampus. It enables us to know where we are in physical space, how we got to this place, and how we will navigate to and from our future destinations. It is a good thing for us to keep our hippocampus active—our ability to use our spatial memory to navigate helps us develop more gray matter through neurogenesis. Our increased gray matter will provide us greater reaches of health as we age.1

Using our memory rather than GPS protects us from the modern-day trappings that have hidden long-term effects. And it's just one strategy for promoting neurogenesis and our long-term brain health. See the video below for more helpful strategies. 📺

1

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3576603/#:~:text=Several%20studies%20have%20examined%20the,spatial%20memory%20in%20older%20adults.&text=We%20hypothesized%20that%20older%20adults,matter%20in%20the%20caudate%20nucleus.