Research suggests that people who grow up in grid-pattern cities are more likely to have a poor sense of direction.

The study shows that people who have spent their childhoods in rural areas have the highest levels of navigation skill. People who grew up in cities with less orderly street plans also performed well in their research. But those from cities based around a planned grid system – think New York or Adelaide – struggled the most to avoid getting lost.

Nearly 400,000 participan­ts from 38 different countries were given a set of wayfinding tasks on a smartphone game called Sea Hero Quest, which was designed for research into Alzheimer’s disease. Their results were compared against a range of variables.

Professor Hugo Spiers, from University College London, who led the research, explains that participan­ts’ poor navigation “seems to be influenced by the lack of complexity of many street networks in cities”. The results suggested that their current place of residence had minimal effect.

Researcher­s also found that navigation skills begin declining in early adulthood.

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