BOSTON, Mass. (November 9, 2010)—For the first time in history, more people live in cities than in rural areas. According to the United Nations, that urban head count tallies up to more than half of the world’s 6.7 billion people. While city life may offer many benefits—ready access to social and cultural events, more employment opportunities, and the promise of higher living standards, as examples—research does show that city life can have drawbacks. For one thing, it’s hard on the brain.
Scientists who have begun to look at how the city affects our brains have uncovered some surprising findings, including evidence that city life can impair basic mental processes, such as memory and attention. A study conducted by University of Michigan researchers in 2008 found that simply spending a few minutes on a busy city street can affect the brain’s ability to focus and to help us manage self-control. continue reading