How many times have we seen someone asking directions to some route to a woman or have we ourselves genuinely taken interest in requesting a lady for clarifying our navigation queries? Worst, even when a female is driving a car/two-wheeler, answers to our doubts are usually directed to the pillion rider, when the pillion rider is a male. This strongly invokes a sense of frustration and anger in us. It’s funny that men and women alike, misjudge all people to be the same and divert all their attention to the male co-passenger in directing them. But, are they misjudging people or is it true that men possess far better navigational skills than women?
Sex differences in cognitive skills start as early as the development of neuronal skills and lasts through an entire life span. Every year, pass percent of female candidates surpass male candidates in board examinations and girls top exam results too. Surprisingly, IIT-JEE results, CAT results and IPS/IAS examinations witness much better performance from boys comparatively. Likewise, common learning tasks show different performances from both, boys and girls. There is evidence backing the theory that males are better on spatial tasks and females in verbal tasks. What about navigation?
Reroute your Routing Directions
It is well-known that males perform better than females when it comes to navigation but there is no underlying connection established between navigation skills and one’s level of sex hormones in determining the reason. Actually, there are two different approaches involved in navigation-egocentric and allocentric strategy. While the former involves using landmarks and other such clues for directions, the latter includes distance, the absolute position of the landmark for finding the way out. Here again, men are better at using the allocentric strategy and women excel in the egocentric strategy for navigational purpose. Isn’t it true that we exactly remember the gym to be close to the ‘X’ accessory shop or the ‘Y’ restaurant?
Men and women are on par when they try to outwit each other within an indoor environment without absolute directions. Once the navigation involves large outdoor spaces, men significantly outperform women! Recently, there have been studies and research happening trying to relate navigational skills of people with their risk of dementia.
Game for It?
Gaming craze hasn’t faded and isn’t in any rush to diminish too in near-future. Individuals are still stuck with their smartphone games and Sony Play Stations during all their free time. Companies are spending millions of dollars in developing interesting games for the youth of today and gaming has become one of the most-powerful and ‘in-demand’ market of late. If you would like to test your direction skills, the new smartphone game called the ‘Sea Hero Quest’ is the right one to pounce upon. The game challenges any player to sail on a global adventure to uncover precious artifacts (in the form of memories) which can be collected at different locations around the world.
Men excel in navigational skills than women according to various studies and research. But men, please don’t be hasty and lift up your collar sleeves with a smug look on your face as I am not yet done fully. Actually, according to researchers at the University College London, this difference is primarily due to discrimination and unequal opportunities and has not got much to do with capability or talent. This comes as a result of a research test for dementia based on the game Sea Hero Quest that has more than 4 million players. Turn deserts into icy oceans and revive an old sailor’s old memory with a touch of a smartphone screen.
What you see in the front is the game and its magic but what happens in the back end is what helps scientists garner data for their research. As you play, the game records the player’s navigational abilities and sense of direction, both of which are one of the primary skills lost due to onset of dementia. Being tech savvy is great maybe nowadays for both the end-user and the gaming company! Almost 2.4 million people have played the game since its launch and has helped to generate more than 9,000 years of lab data in such a limited period of time. The data showed differences in navigation abilities between men and women and amongst countries too. Countries in which men and women are almost equally treated showed very small difference in the spatial navigation test. Whereas, countries that treat women as inferior to men showed great differences in navigation abilities. Even the culture of people, their living style and traditions affected direction skills greatly.
Getting lost or forgetting your way back home is one of the first symptoms of dementia and this game exactly tried to analyze the healthy age range between which people are able to use their navigation skills properly. One major belief that this study helped to falsify includes the fact that navigational ability declines only after a person crosses 60 or 65 years of age. This game helped scientists realize that a person’s ability to navigate declines as young as 19 (this was the age when researchers began sampling) and continues to decline forever. Data revealed that while players aged 19 were 74% accurate, the statistics sharply declined steadily reaching 46% for players aged 75. People in Denmark, Norway and Finland surpassed all other individuals residing in 189 countries in holding the world’s best navigational skills. It is also of importance to note that people of wealthier countries also tend to navigate the best.
The research clearly indicates how navigation skills of people vary and change across age, location and other factors. In today’s world, individuals are diagnosed with dementia every few seconds and dementia is growing to become one of the greatest medical challenges faced by the world. The researchers also plan to take it forward by involving dementia-affected people in the game and figuring out their navigational skills. Get a complete picture about dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s from the website www.firsteatright.com.
Boys and girls, role up your sleeves and start sharpening your navigation skills!
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.