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Excerpted from The Power of Premonitions by Larry Dossey. Copyright © 2009 by Larry Dossey. Excerpted by permission of Dutton, a member of Penguin Group.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.

"While reading a good novel, one is continually envisioning future scenarios, imagining upcoming twists and turns of the plot."

  Larry Dossey, The Power of Premonitions, Part 2

Maguire warns against the use of Global Positioning System (GPS) directional devices in London's taxis. "We very much hope they don't start using it," she said. "We believe this area of the brain increased . . . because of the huge amount of data they have to memorise. If they all start using GPS, that knowledge base will be less and possibly affect the brain changes we are seeing."

GPS devices may not be the only premonition inhibitors we should be concerned about. As we've become increasingly reliant on information technology, there is less need to rely on our first sense, our ability to be a little ahead of ourselves in space and time. Why should I need a premonition of the weather this weekend, when I can click on the Weather Channel's Web site and check the ten-day forecast for any city in the United States? I don't need to use my own intuition in judging the stock market's movement; financial gurus have already used their intuition and posted their predictions online and in newsletters. I can get forecasts on the rise of global temperatures and the melting of polar ice caps years in advance; on whether it's likely to rain on my vegetable garden this summer; on who's likely to win the Super Bowl, on and on.

Realizing this, I can almost feel my hippocampus shrinking. I feel Maguire's warnings should be taken seriously. Reliance on electronic gadgets to do our envisioning for us may indeed affect the brain negatively, dumbing down our first sense.

Can we fight back? We're not likely to disable all the electronic devices that have become an integral part of our lives, but there are antidotes to all these premonition surrogates. Let's recall McDermott's findings: when individuals purposefully imagine potential future events, their memory processing centers in the brain are activated. This suggests that envisioning the future might be good for the brain and our cognitive ability.

In one study involving 13,000 American women entering their later years, researchers found several activities that correlated with the preservation of their cognitive function as they aged. Among these was reading books. While reading a good novel, one is continually envisioning future scenarios, imagining upcoming twists and turns of the plot. It is impossible to read an engrossing novel without exercising this faculty. Whether or not we get it right, these mental exertions are essentially mini-premonitions, imagined micro-visions of the future, and they appear to be good for the brain.

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