Complete archive for the Yearbook of the APCG now available in Project Muse

The Association of Pacific Coast Geographers and the University of Hawai’i Press are pleased to announce the complete archive of the journal is now available in Project Muse.

Yearbook of the Association of Pacific Coast Geographers: Vol. 1 (1935) – Vol. 76 (2014)

Founded in 1935, the APCG has a rich history of promoting geographical education and research. Its Yearbook includes abstracts of papers from its annual meetings, a selection of full-length peer-reviewed articles, and book reviews. Since 1952 the APCG has also been the Pacific Coast Regional Division (including Hawai‘i) of the Association of American Geographers. Individual subscription is by membership in the APCG.

The Yearbook has been published annually except for the years 1944-46; indexes appear in volumes 27, 35, 40, 49, 54, and 66.

Excerpt from the most recent issue of the journal:

Presidential Address: The Geographer’s Eyes and Feet
Michael Schmandt, 13

We humans are surprisingly good at developing mental maps, and we do this through wayfinding. Wayfinding is the process where we gather information and make decisions to orient ourselves and move through space. This involves: (1) identifying your location, (2) determining your destination, (3) developing a route to get from your location to your destination, and (4) navigating along the route. The urban planner Kevin Lynch researched how characteristics of the urban landscape affect how well we remember locations and found that commonly used urban features like paths, nodes, landmarks, edges, and districts create an image in our minds. They are “imageable” features, and they form the exoskeleton for the maps in our minds.

Through time and with practice, we construct stronger mental maps. Of course, these maps are not properly cartographic, but their strongest characteristic is the connections that are made—the paths that link nodes together. As we build up knowledge of an area, we see edges (boundaries) and districts (neighborhoods). Landmarks orient us and guide us along our way. By remembering where these features exist and the connections the features have to each other, we construct strong mental maps. As we develop our mental maps and wayfinding skills, we become more comfortable and confident about moving through a landscape and exploring new places. Yes, mental maps challenge our minds—we commit information to memory, calculate distances, rotate angles, and approximate spatial relationships (Frankenstein 2012, 12SR).

Scientists believe these skills grow stronger with use. The cognitive neurologist Eleanor Maguire found that spatial experience changes brain functions, and even brain size. Her study focused on London taxi cab drivers, who are famous for finding their way to almost any London location. In one part of her study, she hooked the cab drivers up with electrodes and monitored their brain waves, and while blindfolded, she asked them to reconstruct certain routes. As they did this, computers picked up a great deal of activity in the right-hand rear sector of the brain, the base of the hippo-campus (Maguire, et al. 2006, 1095). In another part of her study, she found that the typical taxi driver had a larger than normal hippocampus, and the more years a driver was on the job, the larger his hippocampus. Her study found that spatial experience changes the brain (Maguire, et al., 2006, 1099).

Again, I’m not suggesting that we abandon GPS. Undoubtedly, GPS, like most of the technologies I refer to today, helps us save time and maybe much more. My assertion, however, is that technology becomes a crutch. The more we rely on GPS, the less we build up our mental maps and develop our wayfinding skills. When we don’t exercise these innate skills, they become flabby and we lose confidence.

To read the complete article please visit Project Muse:
Presidential Address: The Geographer’s Eyes and Feet