Why is the posterior hippocampus larger than normal in London taxi drivers?

Originally published at: Why is the posterior hippocampus larger than normal in London taxi drivers? | Boing Boing


I don’t know, why is the posterior hippocampus larger than normal in London taxi drivers?

Punchlines, people, come on!!


That would have been my first guess as well. The amount of navigational knowledge London cabbies need to get their certification is pretty staggering.


Not quite. London covers an area of 600 square miles (nearly 1,600 sq km): a taxi driver would probably need to carry his hippocampus in the boot to memorise every street in that.

The actual requirements are daunting enough: from Wikipedia

Three hundred and twenty standard routes through central London, or “runs”, are defined in the Guide to Learning the Knowledge of London, which is produced by the Public Carriage Office. In all, some 25,000 streets within a six-mile radius of Charing Cross are covered, along with the major arterial routes through the rest of London.

A taxicab-driver must learn these routes, as well as the “points of interest” along and within 1⁄2 mile (0.80 km) of each end of those routes including streets, squares, clubs, hospitals, hotels, theatres, embassies, government and public buildings, railway stations, police stations, courts, diplomatic buildings, important places of worship, cemeteries, crematoria, parks and open spaces, sports and leisure centres, places of learning, restaurants and historic buildings.

The Knowledge includes details such as the order of theatres on Shaftesbury Avenue, and the names and order of the side streets and traffic signals passed on a route.


Does my hippocampus look big in this?


“Baby got hippocampus”

Junk in the hippocampus/detritus in the hippocampus


The “knowledge” make me think of a feat, or special ability in a video game.

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Or a novel by Christopher Priest.

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Because London taxi drivers regularly camp out with hippos.

I’m so out the door right now that one would think I’m no longer in the room.


Posterior you say? Try a beaded seat cushion.


I don’t know if you have taken a black cab in London but their ability to find your destination with only minimal information even outside the 6 mile radius is pretty amazing.

Maybe once the brain is rewired to learn those routes it is easier for it to continually add more information.


Or maybe Charles Stross. Now I’m imagining a novel where the secret reason for 'The knowledge," is that by enlarging the hippocampus it activates psychic powers in a tiny percentage of those who master it. And so it’s really a recruiting tool for MI-11


No, but your posterior does!

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I had that Dr. Eleanor Maquire in the back of my cab the other day. She had the cheek to say I had a big posterior hippocampus. What a liberty! Lock 'em all up and throw away the key, if you ask me. I’m gonna take Westway, guv. It’s a bit longer but it’ll be quicker, okay? Do you mind Talk Radio?


Because he’s pregnant?

I’m not going south of the river at this time of night.


Because their anterior hippocampus is so small.

A bigger hippocampus is needed to get through Elephant and Castle.

Taxi drivers are always the BMOCs at the Hippo Campus.

Neuroplasticity is one reason why I practice guitar with my non-dominant, left, hand. The confusion is marvelous and the music, if you can call it that, is decidedly different. Thanks Libba Cotton whose example taught me just to turn my guitar over and play.

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