Men are better at navigation than women, according to a huge study, but there is not much that men are proud.
Scientists from the University College London, say that the difference has more to do with the discrimination and inequality of opportunity than any innate ability.
The findings come from research on a test for dementia.
But it has also given an unprecedented view into the people the ability of navigation in all over the world.
The experiment is in reality a computer game, Mar Hero Quest, which has had over four million players.
It is a nautical adventure to save an old sailor lost memories and with a touch of a smartphone screen, plot a course round the deserted islands and a frozen ocean.
The game records anonymously the player’s sense of direction and navigational capacity.
A clear image, published in the journal Current Biology, was that men were better at navigation than women. But, why?
Professor Hugo Spiers thinks that he has found the answer by looking at the data of the World Economic Forum, the Gender Gap in the Index – that the studies of equality in the areas of education, health and employment policy.
He told the BBC: “we do not think of the effects that we see are innate.
“So that countries where there is a high level of equality between men and women, the difference between men and women is very small in our spatial navigation test.
“But when there are high levels of inequality, the difference between men and women is much bigger. And that suggests the people of the culture you live in has an effect on their cognitive skills.”Women do not have equality for 100 years
Sea Hero Quest has produced a series of other results.
Denmark, Finland and Norway have the world’s best navigational skills -possibly for their “Viking blood”
Sense of direction is in constant decline after leaving their teenage years
People in richer countries also tend to be the best navigators
The popularity of the game has become the world’s largest dementia research experiment.
To be lost or disoriented, is one of the first signs of the disease.
The next step in the research is to see if the capture of the abrupt decreases in the ability of navigation could be used to test for dementia.
Tim Parry, the director of the Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “The data of Sea Hero Quest provides a unique reference of human navigation varies and changes through the age, location, and other factors.
“This really is just the beginning of what we can learn about the navigation of this powerful analysis.”
This project was funded by Deutsche Telekom and the game was designed by Glitchers.
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