Why it’s not always a good idea to outsource our brains to technology (or to others)



Ignore the GPS. That Ocean Is Not a Road (The New York Times):

…In per­haps the most infa­mous inci­dent, a woman in Bel­gium asked GPS to take her to a des­ti­na­tion less than two hours away. Two days lat­er, she turned up in Croa­t­ia

We seem dri­ven (so to speak) to trans­form cars, con­veyances that show us the world, into machines that also see the world for us.

A con­se­quence is a pos­si­ble diminu­tion of our “cog­ni­tive map,” a term intro­duced in 1948 by the psy­chol­o­gist Edward Tol­man of the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia, Berkeley…he argued that rats had the abil­i­ty to devel­op not only cog­ni­tive “strip maps” –sim­ple con­cep­tions of the spa­tial rela­tion­ship between two points–but also more com­pre­hen­sive cog­ni­tive maps that encom­passed the entire maze.

Could soci­ety’s embrace of GPS be erod­ing our cog­ni­tive maps?

StudyCog­ni­tive maps in rats and men (clas­sic paper pub­lished in The Psy­cho­log­i­cal Review)

  • Abstract: This paper is devot­ed to a descrip­tion of exper­i­ments with rats, most­ly at the author’s lab­o­ra­to­ry, and to indi­cat­ing the sig­nif­i­cance of these find­ings on rats for the clin­i­cal behav­ior of men. While all stu­dents agree as to the facts report­ed, they dis­agree on the­o­ry and expla­na­tion. 5 kinds of exper­i­ments (latent learn­ing, vic­ar­i­ous tri­al and error, search­ing for the stim­u­lus, hypothe­ses, and spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion) are described and dis­cussed. The con­di­tions which favor (cog­ni­tive) nar­row strip-maps and which favor broad com­pre­hen­sive maps in rats and in men are con­sid­ered. Nar­row strip-maps seem to be indi­cat­ed by (1) a dam­aged brain, (2) an inad­e­quate arrange­ment of envi­ron­men­tal­ly pre­sent­ed cues, (3) a sur­plus of rep­e­ti­tions on the orig­i­nal trained-on path, and (4) the pres­ence of too strong­ly frus­trat­ing con­di­tions. The fourth point is elab­o­rat­ed. It is con­tend­ed that some of the psy­cho­log­i­cal mech­a­nisms which clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gists and oth­er stu­dents of per­son­al­i­ty have uncov­ered as fac­tors under­ly­ing many indi­vid­ual and social mal­ad­just­ments can be inter­pret­ed “as nar­row­ings of our cog­ni­tive maps due to too strong moti­va­tions or to too intense frustrations.

To learn more about cog­ni­tion, ori­en­ta­tion and more:

About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.
SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

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