Brain Connects Better Looking at Nature

SHEFFIELD, England, Sept. 18 (UPI) — Environmental scenes of natural features such as the ocean cause distinct brain areas to become “connected” with one another, British researchers say.

However, University of Sheffield researchers say man-made environments, such as highways, disrupt these brain connections.

Dr. Michael Hunter of the University of Sheffield’s Cognition and Neuroimaging Laboratory and colleagues at the Institute of Medicine and Neuroscience at Julich, Germany, carried out functional brain scanning at the University of Sheffield to examine brain activity when people were presented with images of tranquil beach scenes and non-tranquil highway scenes.

Waves breaking on a beach and traffic moving on a highway produce a similar sound and the study participants were shown the scenes while they listened to the same sound.

“People experience tranquility as a state of calmness and reflection, which is restorative compared with the stressful effects of sustained attention in day-to-day life,” Hunter says in a statement.

Professor Peter Woodruff of the University of Sheffield says the finding may have implications for the design of more tranquil public spaces and buildings, including hospitals, because it provides a way of measuring the impact of environmental and architectural features on peopleĀ“s psychological state.

The findings are published in the journal NeuroImage.

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Categorized | Buildings, Other
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