Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Getting lost, stupidity or medical condition?

Finally there is a reason why women can’t read maps!!! Only joking, but I was reading an article today that was talking about a new condition that has been identified called DTD. Developmental Topographical Disorientation is a new condition that has been discovered by some scientists over in Canada, they have found that there is a legitimate reason why people get lost all the time and have absolutely no idea where they are. Obviously there are varying levels of how badly people are affected by this “condition”, but it just amazes me that there is a reason for everything that affects people, and just proves that the brain is an awesome thing.
From a personal point of view I tend to not have a problem with finding my way round places, I can be shown the way once and generally I don’t have a problem getting back. It’s a handy ability to have as I spend half my life on the rabbit warrens that are oil rigs. I can also take a look a Google maps and not have to worry about how to get somewhere. It appears that the people who suffer from extreme DTD have trouble navigating their own house or office. I know this seems strange to most people but there are cases of people who have trouble getting from the bedroom to the kitchen.
Research using an fMRI has found that the Hippocampus (a little chunk of the brain just at the top of the spinal cord) is the offending piece of the brain which prevents you from developing the “cognitive map” that you use to navigate yourself. This part of the brain is also responsible for your internal compass, allowing you to generally know which way your facing at all times. Now, people who do get lost there is nothing physically wrong with your brain, you haven’t damaged your Hippocampus, basically it just hasn’t developed as well as most peoples. As far as I can tell there isn’t a cure for this condition, I think you just have to learn to live with it.
After reading the article there is one question I would like to ask. I don’t want to come across as sexist but there has always been that battle of the sexes in the car when going somewhere. Who should drive and who should navigate? Gents I know you generally like to use you “pigeon’s instinct” but how good are you at reading that map. Ladies, do you really know how to read a map, is it just a pretty picture and you have no idea how to read it and relate it to where you are.  The scientists have developed at test on their website that won’t answer this question but might help answer the age old question. The test has been designed to test your orientation skills. I know the test lasts 90 minutes so give yourself plenty of time but all I’m asking is that you take this test and let me know how you get on.
You can find the test at, have a read of the rest of their site and take the test. It would be interesting to know who will win this skirmish in the battle of the sexes.

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