The hippocampus part of the brain that is associated with navigation, may be larger in people who are from the countryside; new research has found. A paper, published in Biorxiv, studied 442,195 people from 38 countries across the world. They did this by gathering data from a game called “Sea hero quest”. The participant’s goal was to memorise a map and then navigate a boat to various checkpoints using memory alone.
The data found that country folk in their 70s, had navigational skills equivalent to their 60 year old city-based counterparts.
The data also suggests, that American city-dwellers scored worse compared to Europeans. This is likely due to city layouts. Many American cities are based on a grid and number system, whereas European layouts tend to be more chaotic; a remnant left over from earlier cultures. This suggests that more complicated streets layouts, require a higher level of sophistication in brain processing.