One of the joys of iFootpath is having access to more than a thousand UK walking routes, meaning there is always somewhere new to discover. Many of us also have our tried and tested favourite routes and, if you are like me, you may have four or five local dog-walking routes that you have walked hundreds of times. If so, have you noticed that sometimes you walk these routes whilst barely noticing your surroundings? It’s a bit like travelling to work, when some days you are not sure you can remember all the details of the commute. This always left me a little worried and wondering if a such a lapse of concentration might be unsafe. Well researchers at Cambridge University have put my mind at rest, with research showing that autopilot mode is a very normal part of our brain’s activity…
Cambridge researchers carried out a study on 28 volunteers, looking into the way our brain’s default mode contributed to automated processing of information. A collection of brain regions known as the Default Mode Network (DMN) has been identified previously, and is more active when we are rest and particularly when we are daydreaming or thinking about the past or future. Researchers are still working to identify its exact purpose and this study has made another stride forward in this area.
Volunteers were asked to match a target playing card, such as the two of clubs, with one of four cards shown. They had to work out if the cards were supposed to be matched on colour, number or shape through trial and error. Their brain activity was monitored throughout using a scanner. While they were learning the rule, known as the acquisition stage, a part of the brain known as the Dorsal Attention Network was more active. It has been associated with processing information that demands attention. Once they knew the rule and were applying it, the Default Mode Network (DMN) was more active.
This makes sense in terms of allowing our brains to function in the most efficient manner. Our life experiences are made up of new and unknown activities where we are dealing with variable demands (requiring active concentration), along with routine and predictable challenges that require fast and effective responses (that we can navigate using learnt patterns).
Lead author Deniz Vatansever says the DMN allows us to predict what is going to happen and reduce our need to think. "It is essentially like an autopilot that helps us make fast decisions when we know what the rules of the environment are. So, for example, when you're driving to work in the morning along a familiar route, the Default Mode Network will be active, enabling us to perform our task without having to invest lots of time and energy into every decision. When the environment changes, and no longer conforms to our expectations, our brain enters a manual mode that overrides the automatic system, or DMN activity.”
It seems our regular walking and driving journeys are meant to be run on autopilot, with our manual mode kicking in to override this only if something unexpected occurs. This also explains why it feels so much more exhilarating when discovering a new walking route – when the Dorsal Attention Network is actively processing all the new sights, smells and sounds.
The researchers hope their findings may lead to more studies to help those with some diseases and mental health disorders. The DMN can behave abnormally in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) whilst in disorders such as addiction, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, patients can have automatic thought patterns that drive repeated, unpleasant behaviour.
2 November 2017
Apple App Store Review (Canada) 2018
I used it for two weeks when I was on holiday on the UK and I found it reliable and accurate. The descriptions of landmarks was spot on. I enjoyed the walks all the more because there was no worry about getting lost. The historical notes and various “insider knowledge” enhanced my appreciation of the beautiful landscapes. Highly recommended, worth every penny. I just wish I had something like this where I live in Canada.
Google Play 2018
Best walking app I've used, the routes have always been better than expected. Not only are they picturesque, they are also easy to follow.
Google Play 2018
Loving this app. Initially had a few glitches but these all went away after a bit of tweaking the settings. I have used the app for 6 walks so far and have discovered lovely local walks that I would have never known about. The walk descriptions and directions have been really accurate. The live map has been helpful in checking that I haven't gone off course.
Newsletter Feedback 2018
Just completed my first walk using the @ifootpathuk app on my phone. A nice walk and we didn't get lost (as I have no sense of direction whatsoever that is high praise!) #hiking #Snowdonia #walking #adventure
Twitter Feedback 2018
Google Play Review 2018
Super fast help to sort out my problem. Well done and nice friendly reply as well.
Help Centre August 2018
Super fast help to sort out my problem. Well done and nice friendly reply as well.
iOS Appstore November 2017
Great App - never get lost! by The Parallax View Best couple of quid I’ve spent in a long time. Walks are well described & it’s easy to see if you’ve wandered off the mapped tracks via GPS. Degree of difficulty is useful too - can choose a 2 Welly, 5 mile walk with a pub at the end for a relaxing Sunday.
Email November 2017
Wow what a lovely experience it was using your app worked perfectly from the off for the first time found walks nearby we would have never found, brilliant work guys and gals.
This is a great app. Easy to use. Great selection of walks and very uncomplicated instructions, good simple maps. Other walking apps I have tried can be very confusing, this one is just right. Thank you
I used the app for the first time this afternoon. I lead regular ‘Walking for Health’. The app is terrific!
I do a lot of solo walking...so always worry about safety and getting lost.....not anymore I don't...!!!!! The guides are always spot on....and that's what I do.just follow the blue spot...!!! Thank you.... It's my favourite app...!!!!
My wife and I did your Petworth and Shimmings Valley walk yesterday. It was absolutely beautiful and enhanced by the wonderful weather. Your instructions were the clearest I have ever used for walking.
Without doubt the best app that I have ever downloaded! - NT
This App is brilliant. It enables you to track your walks and download them for future reference. The Library provides you with a variety of walks and are supported by clear instructions and photographs along the route. This makes them very easy to follow. I have used the App for about two years and have found it invaluable. Should you have any queries about any aspect of iFootpath the support you get is second to none.
Absolutely beautiful walk, and a wonderful app. Thank you so much :)
I want to congratulate you on your web site/app performance, quick, reliable and easy to use. I have similar walking apps with OS Maps and ViewRanger but yours is best.
This app has totally changed my life, i absolutely love it. I did this walk yesterday, what a beautiful walk it is, i thoroughly enjoyed it and would definitely do it again, in fact i met an older gentleman who was on his 100 and something time there!! My sister and daughter cant wait to come along. The noise mentioned about the motorway is negligible and for me did not detract from the overall walk at all, the view from the top was stunning!!
So far I have downloaded 5 walks and completed 3 of them, tomorrow will be No 4. I love your website The walk descriptions are the best I have used in the last six years of rambling since I retired. This is a website I would be more than happy to pay a subscription for, instead I'll donate a sum to my favourite charity. THANK YOU.
Have deleted Pokemon Go and downloaded @ifootpathuk which is much more 'me'
I love the illustrated descriptions of each walk section. Really helps to enjoy the walk and get to know something about what I'm seeing. So much better than apps that only provide GPS co-ordinates and no photos or description. Love it!
After trying out numerous other apps I came across this one: way ahead of any of the others in every way. Much more accurate and very easy to use with great features. Would highly recommend it as THE app to use for walking.
Just wonderful, with walks for everyone: the fit, the not-so-fit, short walks, long walks, through woods, up hills (and down).
I highly recommend it, as my mum and I use it to go for walks and finish by eating at a pub. Its detailed and sometimes humorous instructions lead us easily to our destination. Also, to top this, it has interesting facts about the area we're walking in
I don't review much but this app deserves it. Downloaded some really good walks and the combination of the good descriptions and the really useful map of the walk showing where you are make it a brilliant tool. Well done and keep up the good work.
Very enjoyable and well described route. Views over the river from the warren were stunning.
Fantastic walk and amazing views. Great directions though I followed the GPS map mainly
Great walk, instructions were very detailed, perfect!
This may be the best walk I've ever done. It was certainly the best directions.
Even on a cold windy day with it trying to snow this was still an excellent walk. We managed it with our 2 children of 5 yrs and one in a all terain pram (a defo no no with a normal pram). Will be doing this one again in the summer.
Used app while visiting (it was great!)--live in Texas. Thanks!
Your app and walks are a dream to use
Did this walk this morning with our three little girls and we all love it. Great day outdoor!