…attentiveness has a complicated relationship with memory. While the brain can’t store all of the city’s potential information at the level of instant accessibility, we realize as we navigate neighbourhoods that we’ve held onto knowledge we didn’t realize we had ”“ the location of a dry cleaner en route to work, the eerie feeling that a certain street is coming up on the right.
“There are arguments in cognitive literature that we encode sequence information virtually for free ”“ that it’s almost automatic even if it’s of no immediate use to you,” says [University of Waterloo] Prof. [Colin] MacLeod.
In this sense, our brains are hungry for what a city provides. “Humans enjoy being engaged,” says Prof. Pratt. “We don’t like living in sparse environments.”