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London taxi drivers: A review of neurocognitive studies and an exploration of how they build their cognitive map of London

Griesbauer, E-M; Manley, E; Wiener, JM; Spiers, HJ; (2022) London taxi drivers: A review of neurocognitive studies and an exploration of how they build their cognitive map of London. Hippocampus , 32 (1) pp. 3-20. 10.1002/hipo.23395. Green open access

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Abstract

Licensed London taxi drivers have been found to show changes in the gray matter density of their hippocampus over the course of training and decades of navigation in London (UK). This has been linked to their learning and using of the “Knowledge of London,” the names and layout of over 26,000 streets and thousands of points of interest in London. Here we review past behavioral and neuroimaging studies of London taxi drivers, covering the structural differences in hippocampal gray matter density and brain dynamics associated with navigating London. We examine the process by which they learn the layout of London, detailing the key learning steps: systematic study of maps, travel on selected overlapping routes, the mental visualization of places and the optimal use of subgoals. Our analysis provides the first map of the street network covered by the routes used to learn the network, allowing insight into where there are gaps in this network. The methods described could be widely applied to aid spatial learning in the general population and may provide insights for artificial intelligence systems to efficiently learn new environments.

Type: Article
Title: London taxi drivers: A review of neurocognitive studies and an exploration of how they build their cognitive map of London
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1002/hipo.23395
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1002/hipo.23395
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2021 The Authors. Hippocampus published by Wiley Periodicals LLC. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: cognitive maps, learning strategies, navigation, spatial cognition, spatial learning, wayfinding
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10141233
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