Entropy of city street networks linked to future spatial navigation ability

Coutrot, Antoine and Manley, Ed and Goodroe, Sarah and Gahnstrom, Christoffer and Filomena, Gabriele and Yesiltepe, Demet and Conroy-Dalton, Ruth and Wiener, Jan M. and Hölscher, Christian and Hornberger, Michael and Spiers, H. J. (2022) Entropy of city street networks linked to future spatial navigation ability. Nature, 604 (7904). 104–110. ISSN 0028-0836

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The cultural and geographical properties of the environment have been shown to deeply influence cognition and mental health. Living near green spaces has been found to be strongly beneficial, and urban residence has been associated with a higher risk of some psychiatric disorders—although some studies suggest that dense socioeconomic networks found in larger cities provide a buffer against depression. However, how the environment in which one grew up affects later cognitive abilities remains poorly understood. Here we used a cognitive task embedded in a video game to measure non-verbal spatial navigation ability in 397,162 people from 38 countries across the world. Overall, we found that people who grew up outside cities were better at navigation. More specifically, people were better at navigating in environments that were topologically similar to where they grew up. Growing up in cities with a low street network entropy (for example, Chicago) led to better results at video game levels with a regular layout, whereas growing up outside cities or in cities with a higher street network entropy (for example, Prague) led to better results at more entropic video game levels. This provides evidence of the effect of the environment on human cognition on a global scale, and highlights the importance of urban design in human cognition and brain function.

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?? navigationnavigational strategiesstreet network configurationgeneral ??
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25 Apr 2022 15:05
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22 Jun 2024 00:43