Why black cabbies are qualified to solve the world’s wrongs

London Black Cab drivers are renowned for being ultra-brainy: we are expected to memorize the routes of up to 25,000 different roads in the capital, along with places of interest, important buildings, miscellanea, and we are not given a license until we’ve have demonstrated we have “The Knowledge”, with 70 per cent of trainees dropping out along the way and some Knowledge “boys” taking up to five years to qualify it’s a pretty grueling course. But when we’re finished boy, can we talk politics and solve the world’s wrongs!

Scientists have discovered that cab drivers have a strong internal sense of direction that in many people is absent. The scientists found the brain area known as the hippocampus was larger than average in cabbies. This area of the brain starts firing neurons like mad as their cab driver owners ruminate on what route to take from A to B.

Researchers at the Wellcome Trust put dozens of cabbies in a brain scanner, asked them to play a computer game recreating London streets and then analyzed their brain activity.

Dr Hugo Spiers of University College London believes that the hippocampus is crucial for navigation and we use it like a satnav and that London taxi drivers have powerful innate satnavs, strengthened by years of experience. He has identified three types of cell behind the satnav effect: place cells map our location, direction cells tell us which way we are facing and grid cells how far we have travelled.
A further study in America by Deniz Erten-Lyons of Oregon University also found that an enlarged hippocampus might be the reason why people with dementia might not show signs of the condition. She believes that a larger hippocampus may protect these people from the effects of Alzheimer’s disease-related brain changes.
So you see we cabbies have an amazing brain compared to the rest of humanity, or we have Alzheimer’s and are unaware of it . . . now where DID I put my glasses!

Be lucky, Steve.

5 Responses to “Why black cabbies are qualified to solve the world’s wrongs”

  1. Darren says:

    Hello Steve, Daz again, the butterboy, or rather butterboy in training. I read something about this and watched a short film about it the other night, and it’s true. I also find that I forget the simple things, like calling my jumper my ‘robe thingy’, and my son Harvey (3 mths) ‘whats his name again…….’, but as well as learning all these routes and places of interest, I’ve also become slightly obsessed with all things ‘REALLY Interesting in London. When I’m pointing I’m pretty anal with going the extra mile, and find my self up and down little alley ways to see where they go, with one inparticular being the little cut through from Strand down to Savoy Place, which I was quite pleased with myself with, and finding ‘Little Compton Street’………..or the sign to it to be honest, and finding the memorial to Giro the german dog. BUT, I have made it my mission to find the 7 noses of Soho, now I’ve found 4 so far, Admiralty Arch, Meard St, Bateman St and Gt Windmill St. Apprently they are casts of a famous artist from the 60’s (before I was born………ah herm) as a protest to something the council were proposing back then. So I’m looking for a heads up from you and all you twitter members, very impressive by the way, to see if we, or rather I can then ‘locate’ them all if you know what I mean. If you can help Steve it would make my day, and allow me to find out something else very interesting. I was hoping I could also drop in sometime with wonderful tit-bits I find along the way to amuse and enlighten (or not) you all. Cheers Steve and good luck to you all. Darren.

  2. steve says:

    Hi Darren i’ll ask the guys on Twitter if they know then i’ll post the answer. you would have probably have found them by the time I find out, lol.

    When I did the knowledge and passed out I was obviously pleased but in a way a little bit disappointed, I wanted to know more, I liked finding places statues, plaques, etc,etc.

  3. Darren says:

    Hi Steve, Good work on the ’seeing the miniscabs off certain ranks’, jobbie, just goes to show, power by numbers eh. Thanks for the offer to tweet all on TLC, I appreciate it. I’m with you on the seeing more of london, as I said before, I spend loads of time just buzzing about finding different places, and I’ve seen hundreds of places that I had no idea existed. Thanks once again Steve, did you find Little Compton St by the way…………..daz

  4. Steve says:

    Darren sorry it’s taken so long to answer your question but the best I can do is tell you the answers I got back.

    Tell Darren to ask Wizann knowledge school and Derek says the one on admiralty arch isn’t one of the 7, this one is supposed to be a copy of Napoleon’s nose and is set at the right height for horse riders to rub for good luck as they ride by.

    I was never asked the question myself.

    As for Little compton st, I thought I knew it but drew another blank.

    I wasn’t much help Darren. When you find them will you let me know please.

  5. Darren says:

    Morning Steve, Thank you for asking, you never know do you, great idea regarding the nose at Ad arch, great story too. The one for Little Compton St is: Lve Old Compton St and left into Charing X Rd, and imm on the right is a traffic island, if you pull up next to it, traffic permitting, and look through the grill ad you will see the old road sign on the wall for Little Compton St, I was well impressed. I can only find info saying it linked Old Compton St to New Compton St. Have a butchers when your there next. Got another one for you mate (I know where this is, just a brain teaser for you guy’s), Little St Pauls, any ideas???, good luck Steve and thanks again. All the best.

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