Scientific American, Time et al. - City living changes brain's stress response


In an international study, researchers at University of Heidelberg and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University report in the journal Nature that people who live or were raised in cities show distinct differences in activity in certain brain regions than those who aren't city dwellers…

Cities can be stressful places, and are a far cry from the sparsely populated landscapes in which our prehistoric ancestors evolved. All of that noise, traffic, pollution and crowding has a well-documented impact on our mental health. People who live in cities are more likely to have mood or anxiety disorder (21 percent and 39 percent, respectively) and are twice as likely to have schizophrenia.

With more than half of the world's population currently living in urban areas—and about 70 percent projected to be city dwellers by 2050—figuring out how to curb the mental toll of city life could become a major public policy issue. And Jens Pruessner, of the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University, calls it "a cause for concern."