Do our brains pay a price for GPS?

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With the option to use GPS to do our wayfinding for us, it might seem like we don’t have much need for mental maps anymore. But according to Veronique Bohbot, a neuroscientist affiliated with McGill University and the Douglas Institute who studies spatial memory and navigation, the process of generating mental maps also plays a role in activities that have nothing to do with getting to work. Becoming overly reliant on GPS and letting that skill atrophy, she and others suggest, might actually be bad for us. “It’s important for people to take responsibility for their health — including their cognitive health,” said Bohbot. “We can’t just take the back seat.”