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Entropy of city street networks linked to future spatial navigation ability

Coutrot, A; Manley, E; Goodroe, S; Gahnstrom, C; Filomena, G; Yesiltepe, D; Dalton, RC; ... Spiers, HJ; + view all (2022) Entropy of city street networks linked to future spatial navigation ability. Nature , 604 (7904) pp. 104-110. 10.1038/s41586-022-04486-7.

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Abstract

The cultural and geographical properties of the environment have been shown to deeply influence cognition and mental health1-6. Living near green spaces has been found to be strongly beneficial7-11, and urban residence has been associated with a higher risk of some psychiatric disorders12-14-although some studies suggest that dense socioeconomic networks found in larger cities provide a buffer against depression15. 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 game16 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.

Type: Article
Title: Entropy of city street networks linked to future spatial navigation ability
Location: England
DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04486-7
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04486-7
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Experimental Psychology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10148458
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