Taxi driver brains: A further look

Eleanor Maguire has extended the research for which she and her colleagues (David Gadian, Ingrid Johnsrude, Catriona Good, John Ashburner,Richard Frackowiak, and Christopher Frith of University College London) were awarded the 2003 Ig Nobel Prize in psychology.

The original paper is: “Navigation-Related Structural Change In the Hippocampi of Taxi Drivers“, It compared the brains of London taxi drivers—all of whom had undergone the years-long task of memorizing the street map of London—with the brains of other people.

Ed Yong, in his blog Not Exactly Rocket Science, describes Maguire’s new paper:

n 2000, Maguire showed that one particular part of the brain – the  hippocampus – is much larger in London cab drivers than in other people….

An enlarged hippocampus is a rare feature. You don’t see it in doctors who gain vast amounts of knowledge over many years. You don’t see it in memory champions who have trained themselves to remember seemingly impossible lists. You don’t see it in London’s bus drivers who have similar driving skills but work along fixed routes. Among all of these groups, only the London cabbies, with their superb spatial memories, have swollen hippocampi….

“But of course,” [Maguire] says, “the real test is to take people before they start training and test them afterwards, to see if there are changes in the hippocampus in the same individual. That would give the best evidence.”

Maguire, and her colleague Katherine Woollett, have done exactly that. They scanned their brains of 79 wannabe drivers who had just started their training. Three to four years later, they did the same thing. By this point, 39 of the trainees – just under half – had earned their licence. The rest had flunked out. The Knowledge is not easily won….

Woollett and Maguire found that the hippocampi of the qualified cabbies had grown in size, especially the back part. They were now significantly larger than those of either the failed trainees or the men who didn’t take part….

This photo shows Eleanor Maguire (first from the left, in white) at the Ig Nobel ceremony as she was about to receive her prize from Nobel laureate Dudley Herschbach (right, also in white):

BONUS: Wellcome Trust press release about the new work.

13 Responses to “Taxi driver brains: A further look”

  1. buy proxy Says:

    Generally I do not read post on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do it! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thank you, very great post.

  2. Lonnie Hattier Says:

    I am so happy to read this. This is the kind of manual that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this greatest doc.

  3. shared proxy Says:

    Hi there, You have done a great job. I will certainly digg it and personally recommend to my friends. I’m sure they’ll be benefited from this website.

  4. Beatrice Hric Says:

    My spouse and i got quite fulfilled that Albert managed to finish up his investigations from the ideas he was given in your site. It’s not at all simplistic to just always be offering ideas which other people might have been making money from. And we all fully understand we now have the blog owner to appreciate for this. The entire illustrations you’ve made, the easy web site menu, the friendships your site give support to foster – it is all spectacular, and it’s really aiding our son in addition to the family reason why this subject is exciting, and that’s rather serious. Many thanks for everything!

  5. Too many cooks Says:

    These two better settle their score now before everything ends up burnt!

  6. Can you hear me now Says:

    This guy has something very important to say!

  7. Google Says:

    Very couple of websites that take place to become detailed below, from our point of view are undoubtedly effectively worth checking out.

  8. Couple has the best seat in the house Says:

    These two sure know how to enjoy a movie!

  9. Couple in movie theater Says:

    This has to be the happiest couple on planet Earth!

  10. Kitty Futurology Says:

    This is the future of kitty cats.

  11. The future of kitty cats Says:

    This is what the future holds for kitty cats.

  12. He likes to be their first customer in the morning Says:

    Expect to see him when the restaurant opens every day.

  13. Doctor enjoying chocolate Says:

    Doctor bite right into a chococlate bar.

Leave a Reply