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Volume 604 Issue 7904, 7 April 2022

Lost in the city

The cover image contrasts the grid-like street plan of Chicago with the more chaotic layout of Prague. In this week’s issue, Antoine Coutrot and his colleagues reveal how the environment in which we grow up can affect aspects of our cognition. The researchers used specially designed video games to measure spatial navigation ability in some 397,000 people from 38 countries around the world. They found that people who grew up outside of cities were best at navigation. They also noted that people who grew up in cities such as Chicago with regular, grid-like street plans could navigate environments similar to their home, but were less adept at navigating more chaotic street plans of older cities such as Prague. The researchers suggest that this demonstrates the importance of urban design in human cognition and brain function.

Cover image: K. Krause/Nature; maps: Bardocz Peter and ilyankou/Shutterstock

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