If you need directions, ask someone who was raised in a rural area—that’s the finding of scientists in France and England. The Economist magazine reports that neuroscientists have found that persons who grow up in a city have reduced navigational skills compared to persons who grew up in rural settings.
Scientists from Nantes University in France and the University College in London used a dataset of 4 million players of the computer game, Sea Hero Quest, to test the navigational skills of those playing the game. The scientists found the strongest indicator of navigational skills was age, with younger persons performing better. However, they also found that players from rural areas performed better than those from urban areas, and that the gap in favor of rural people was largest in America. Researchers hypothesize the gap is widest in America because the cities are largely grid-based—they wonder if the navigational skills of people in cities are weaker because the less-challenging environment doesn’t test them as much. In any case, the next time a city cousin is found wondering in your rural neighborhood, be a good neighbor, offer to show them the way. (Lost in the city, The Economist, February 8th, 2020).