People raised in cities are worse at navigation: study


Credit: Unsplash/CC0 public domain

People who grew up in the countryside have a better sense of direction and navigation than those who grew up in cities, according to a study Wednesday.

To find out how childhood environment influences navigation ability, scientists looked at how nearly 400,000 people from 38 countries played a mobile video game designed for neuroscience research.

Players of the game “Sea Hero Quest” had to navigate a boat to find checkpoints on a map, according to the study published in the Nature newspaper.

“We found that growing up outside cities seems to be good for the development of navigation skills, and this seems to be influenced by the lack of complexity of many street networks in cities,” said lead researcher Hugo Spiers from the ‘University College London.

Co-lead author Antoine Coutrot of the University of Lyon said research had previously shown that when mice grew up in cages with trajectories of different complexity, “certain cognitive abilities in their brains, including spatial navigation, were also modified.

However, humans were a bit trickier to study because “you can’t put them in cages,” he told AFP.

So the researchers used “Sea Hero Quest,” which was created in 2016 to study Alzheimer’s disease and has since been played by nearly four million people.

Coutrot said people who grew up in rural areas performed better because “the countryside is quite a complex environment in that it’s very disorganized, with greater distances, which means you have to memorize your itinerary”.

However, people raised in more complex cities such as Paris and Prague did much better than those in cities with orderly grid-based street maps like Chicago, he added.

And adults can still improve their sense of direction later in life if they work on it.

“It’s a bit like learning another language, which will be much easier if you learned it when you were young,” Coutrot said.

Researchers also developed a new version of the game called “City Hero Quest” to test how city dwellers performed in their natural environment.

People raised in cities did better on grid street maps than those raised in the countryside, but the difference was nowhere near as stark as the reverse.

Growing up in rural or suburban areas improves spatial navigation

More information:

Antoine Coutrot, Entropy of urban road networks linked to the future capacity of spatial navigation, Nature (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04486-7.

© 2022 AFP

People raised in cities are worse at navigation: study (2022, April 2)
retrieved 2 April 2022

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair use for the purpose of private study or research, no
any part may be reproduced without written permission. The content is provided for information only.

Disclaimer! Verve Times is an automatic aggregator of all media in the world. In each content, the hyperlink to the main source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the content owner and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – [email protected]. Content will be deleted within 24 hours.

About Author

Comments are closed.