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London’s black taxi drivers aid Dementia research through unique brain testing trial

Updated: Jul 30, 2021

Image credit: LEVC

London’s black cab drivers, famed for their ability to plan routes by remembering thousands of the capital’s streets, are playing a vital role in advancing dementia research.

The Taxi Brains Project, run by The Spatial Cognition Group at University College London, is analysing taxi drivers’ brains via MRI scans as they plan routes through London.

Possessing a larger part of the brain that shrinks early in Alzheimer’s disease – the hippocampus – licensed black cab drivers are a unique test group and the results of the trial will help provide critical insights in helping science to develop diagnostics to detect Alzheimer’s disease earlier.

Two of LEVC’s elite cab drivers, Patrick Follen and Peter Powell, who helped LEVC test the TX electric taxi on the streets of London, have already taken part.

Drivers who would like to join the study can book a place online with testing finishing on 30 July.

Run by Professor Hugo Spiers in the Department of Experimental Psychology at University College London, participants will receive up to £30 for participating and be compensated for any parking costs.

By completing the Knowledge of London, acquired through years of training in specific Knowledge Schools, London’s cabbies learn to navigate through the city’s 58,000 streets without the use of GPS and automated instructions.

To find out more about the Taxi Brains project, visit:


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