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Scientists hope study of black taxi drivers’ memory for maps will make it easier to spot Alzheimer’s

Scientists hope study of black taxi drivers’ memory for maps will make it easier to spot Alzheimer’s

Do brains of London’s cabbies maintain the important thing in combat in opposition to dementia? Scientists hope study of black taxi drivers’ memory for maps will make it easier to detect Alzheimer’s

  • MRI scans are being taken of London Black Cab drivers’ brains in a brand new study 
  • Researchers discovered elements of cab drivers’ brains are bigger than common inhabitants
  • Scientists hope the study ‘Taxi Brains’ will assist develop diagnostics for dementia








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The minds of London’s black cab drivers are quickly to be explored by researchers hoping to unlock the thriller of Alzheimer’s illness.

MR scans are being taken of drivers’ brains, with a selected give attention to an space referred to as the hippocampus – which performs an essential half in memory and shrinks in individuals affected by Alzheimer’s. 

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Previous research have discovered the hippocampus is bigger in London taxi drivers than the remaining of the inhabitants – and it continues to develop the longer they’re within the job, The Times reports.

'London cabbies have unique brains. They have a difference in the size of their hippocampus,' says neuroscientist Professor Hugo Spiers

‘London cabbies have distinctive brains. They have a distinction within the measurement of their hippocampus,’ says neuroscientist Professor Hugo Spiers

The study, referred to as Taxi Brains, is being performed by Hugo Spiers, professor of cognitive neuroscience at University College, who’s aiming to develop diagnostics to detect dementia earlier. The outcomes will be shared with charity Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Prof Spiers stated: ‘London cabbies have distinctive brains. They have a distinction within the measurement of their hippocampus. It’s a small enhance however extremely important. 

‘You can’t study these individuals in New York. There is not any different metropolis on this planet that has that sort of similarity.’

Problems with co-ordination are among the many first signs of Alzheimer’s, in accordance to Professor Spiers. 

He stated: ‘One of the important thing issues that occurs within the early phases is that folks grow to be disorientated.

‘When they step out of the home they don’t know the place they are surely or which method they want to go. They’re misplaced.

‘What we’re hoping to perceive higher is the potential influence of sure existence, on this case navigating daily for most of your grownup life utilizing your personal memory and never Google, and what’s that doing to the mind.’ 

Since 1865, London cab drivers have been required to full a formidable take a look at referred to as ‘the Knowledge of London’, which includes memorising 100,000 landmarks and 26,000 streets so as to discover the quickest routes by town’s advanced roads format. 

The Knowledge takes three to 4 years to full and is taken into account as difficult as a legislation diploma, in addition to one of essentially the most tough memory exams on this planet.

Prof Spiers discovered a quantity of London cabbies to participate within the study and took MRI scans of their brains as they answered examination questions from The Knowledge. 

One of the volunteers is Mike Lewis, 64, a father-of-four from Chingford, Essex, who has been a black cab driver for 38 years. He signed up for the study after coming throughout it on Twitter.

Developing Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is many Britons’ worst fear when it comes to ageing, according to a recent survey by YouGov

Developing Alzheimer’s or one other kind of dementia is many Britons’ worst worry when it comes to ageing, in accordance to a current survey by YouGov

Asked about taking The Knowledge, he stated: ‘The solely method I can describe it is you grow to be obsessed. You simply have to hold doing it till you are phrase excellent and every thing is simply automated.’ 

Irish neuroscientist Eleanor Maguire first recognized that The Knowledge was having a constructive impact on drivers’ brains in 2000. A later study in 2011 reported that the hippocampus solely elevated in drivers’ mind who certified. 

Prof Spiers, who studied in Maguire’s lab, stated: ‘The key’s that 21 years in the past it was found that taxi drivers have a component that appears to be bigger.

‘The longer they’d been taxi drivers, the bigger that one half appeared to be, as if it was increasing with expertise — however that is an assumption.’ 

Any black cab drivers who want to participate, go to @taxibrains on Twitter

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Scientists hope study of black taxi drivers’ memory for maps will make it easier to spot Alzheimer’s

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