News & Press: Science

Global variability of navigation ability

14 August 2018   (0 Comments)
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A fascinating study of how human spatial ability is dependent on age, wealth and gender has been published.

The researchers designed a mobile video game, ‘Sea Hero Quest’, to test spatial navigation ability in over 2.5 million people - sampling populations in every country throughout the world.

They found that:
- Spatial ability of the population of a country is correlated with economic wealth of that country.
- Gender inequality of a country is predictive of gender differences in navigation ability.
- Spatial ability declines across the adult lifespan.

In other words, the richer a country, the better its subjects can navigate; the greater the degree of inequality between males and females, the less is the females’ navigation ability compared with males; and navigation ability decreases with age.

The top 10 countries in spatial navigation ability are listed in the order: Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Canada, Norway, United States, Australia, Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

The report, Coutrot et al, ‘Global Determinants of Navigation Ability’ was published in Current Biology on 9 August 2018. It can be found at