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Do our brains pay a price for GPS?


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One reason to actually go to the site of a cache without using the GPS, trying to learn as much as possible about the area, then switching on the GPS on site to find the cache for the last few meters.

I experienced this issue myself around 2003, while using a Garmin eMap running in battery. It happened several times that I ran out of battery in the middle of a motorbike trip, and often I indeed had no clue of where I was ;-)


Do our brains pay a price for GPS?


Happy geocaching,


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I think this is pretty true we don't remember phone numbers anymore now that we have cell phones. In fact some people with cell phones don't even know their own numbers. Then there's calculators and we can't do grade 6 math anymore without them. I once car pooled to work with a guy who always set his GPS to guide him every morning. He said it was so he wouldn't go to the wrong job site. I did not feel safe driving with that guy. I don't have a vehicle GPS and don't want one, I'll stick to a map book if I even need that. Geo caching like all outdoor activities does get you out there and so you do learn about your city/area though. Like all things in life only when we challenge ourselves do we learn and grow.

Edited by Forkeye
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The crux of these studies is that "stimulus-response" is actually referring only to people who wait for a stimulus (Garmin Voice - "Turn right on Main Street") and follow it with a response (turning on Main Street). Following the routing directions ALONE or just following that pink little line without ever referring to the actual contents of the map is what the studies say is rotting your brain. The studies DO NOT imply that using a GPS as a map to get a sense of terrain or location is what's rotting brains. Quite the opposite. Using a GPS map to determine the best route on your own is the same as looking at an atlas or topo map which increases your spatial cognitivity.


Using the map on your GPS to navigate to a geocache isn't "stimulus-response" if you actually visualize the terrain and plan the best route in your head, spatially, using the maps on the GPS screen. If you simply follow that pink little line to your destination than your brain just might be rotting.


In it's simplest terms, if you use your GPS as a map then your fine. If you use it as an automatic router (voice or pink line) than your brain isn't computing anything spatial and it rots like a road killed whistle-pig. :)

Edited by yogazoo
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Yes, I found the same thing with my wife giving me directions, before GPS existed.


If I had to figure out how to get somewhere on my own, I would likely remember the route, and next time do it by memory. But if we took a route my wife knew well and I simply followed her turn by turn instructions, the next time I would have no idea of the route we took.


So yes, whether hiking or driving I try to notice the route (and often use a paper map as well) to learn about and remember the area, rather than blindly follow instructions.

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