Global determinants of navigation ability

Coutrot, Antoine and Silva, Ricardo and Manley, Ed and de Cothi, Will and Sami, Saber and Bohbot, Veronique and Wiener, Jan and Hoelscher, Christoph and Dalton, Ruth and Hornberger, Michael and Spiers, Hugo (2018) Global determinants of navigation ability. Current Biology, 28 (17). pp. 2861-2866. ISSN 0960-9822

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Abstract

Countries vary in their geographical and cultural properties. Only a few studies have explored how such variations influence how humans navigate or reason about space. We predicted that these variations impact human cognition, resulting in an organized spatial distribution of cognition at a planetary-wide scale. To test this hypothesis we developed a mobile-app-based cognitive task, measuring non-verbal spatial navigation ability in more than 2.5 million people, sampling populations in every nation state. We focused on spatial navigation due to its universal requirement across cultures. Using a clustering approach, we find that navigation ability is clustered into five distinct, yet geographically related, groups of countries. Specifically, the economic wealth of a nation was predictive of the average navigation ability of its inhabitants, and gender inequality was predictive of the size of performance difference between males and females. Thus, cognitive abilities, at least for spatial navigation, are clustered according to economic wealth and gender inequalities globally, which has significant implications for cross-cultural studies and multi-centre clinical trials using cognitive testing.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Current Biology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1300
Subjects:
ID Code:
138598
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
06 Nov 2019 11:55
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
23 Sep 2020 05:46