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Maguire Et Al

Navigation- related structural


changes in the hippocampus of taxi
drivers. (2000)

Background
London Taxi driver must take a test before they can
get the licence to become a taxi driver.
London taxi driver need knowledge of London streets,
clubs, parks, place of worship, railway station etc.
These taxi driver have to take
passenger were they want to go.

The Study
Aim: To highlight that the hippocampus is the section of the human

brain connected with spatial memory and navigation.

Hypothesis/ questions for study to answer:


1. Are brain differences pre-determined or is the brain capable of
changing in response to the environment nature or nurture.
2. What is the exact function of the hippocampus?
3. Does the human brain respond to experiences requiring spatial
memory in the same way of a lower mammals or birds brain?

Method

London taxi drivers were used because they used a lot of spatial
memory and navigation.

Training is about two years to become a taxi driver.

Extensive training helps these taxi drivers to achieve the


knowledge to navigate around thousands of places in London.

Experimental group:
16 right-handed men with the mean age of 44 were used.
These taxi drivers have been licensed for more than 1.5 years.
Control group:
16 men none of whom were taxi drivers, mean age also 44.

Procedure

Data collected by MRI scans were analysed using the below two
techniques:

Image analysis method 1: VBM


VBM- Voxel-based morphometry, allows to examine every point of the
brain in an objective and unbiased manner.
Image analysis method 2: Pixel counting
A pixel is a single point on a graphic image.
The pixels were counted in the images produced by MRI scans.
Each scan showed a photographic slice made through the
hippocampi regions of participants brains.
In the final analysis only 24 slices were used.

Results

Taxi drivers had an increase in grey matter on the right and left
hippocampi.

Control group -the non-taxi drivers had


more grey matter in the anterior hippocampi.

Taxi drivers had higher volumes on their


posterior hippocampus.

Control group had a greater volume on the


right than the left. Also the body of the hippocampus was larger on
the right.

Conclusion

Study suggests a relationship between navigational skills and the


relative distribution of grey matter in the hippocampus.

Nature or Nurture
The question is that, is the grey matter
distribution and effect of spending time
navigating
or that the distribution of grey matter
is present in certain individuals and allows
them to take a job which requires navigation.

The hippocampus is involved/linked with spatial navigation.