The Cognitive Benefits of Interacting With Nature

Department of Psychology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1043, USA.
Psychological Science (Impact Factor: 4.43). 01/2009; 19(12):1207-12. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02225.x
Source: PubMed


We compare the restorative effects on cognitive functioning of interactions with natural versus urban environments. Attention restoration theory (ART) provides an analysis of the kinds of environments that lead to improvements in directed-attention abilities. Nature, which is filled with intriguing stimuli, modestly grabs attention in a bottom-up fashion, allowing top-down directed-attention abilities a chance to replenish. Unlike natural environments, urban environments are filled with stimulation that captures attention dramatically and additionally requires directed attention (e.g., to avoid being hit by a car), making them less restorative. We present two experiments that show that walking in nature or viewing pictures of nature can improve directed-attention abilities as measured with a backwards digit-span task and the Attention Network Task, thus validating attention restoration theory.

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    • "Deficits in either attention or inhibitory control are generally associated with deficits in working memory (e.g., Roderer, Krebs, Schmid, & Roebers, 2012; Sowerby, Seal, & Tripp, 2011). It is important to examine multiple dimensions of attention and EF to determine if they are differentially influenced by exposure to nature as reported by Berman et al. (2008), who found that their participants only improved in the executive attention portion of the Attention Network Test after exposure to nature and not the alerting or orienting portions of the measurement. "
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    Environment and Behavior 09/2015; DOI:10.1177/0013916515603095 · 1.27 Impact Factor
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    • "Chronic mental stress can be manifested in physiological, emotional, behavioural and cognitive changes. These changes can be perceived as mental and physical tiredness, worries, anxiety, E. Sonntag-Öström et al. / Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14 (2015) 607–614 Morita et al., 2007; Berman et al., 2008). There is evidence that green environments are important for humans in need of recuperation (Ottosson and Grahn, 2005; Morita et al., 2007; Velarde et al., 2007; Korpela et al., 2010; Hartig et al., 2011), and there are theories that describe how nature influences body and mind in a favourable way (Appleton, 1975; Ulrich, 1983; Wilson, 1984; Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1995). "

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    • "Students experience the benefit of mental stability, relaxed mind, avoid stress and preassure, improve on their behavior and improve their mental health by way of interaction and direct contact with the environment. In the context of the attention restoration theory (Kaplan & Kaplan 1989; Kaplan 1995; Berman et al. 2008) based on the analogy that the environment is closely connected with the mental stability of an individual; that being the close proximity between the inclination of an individual who is to be recovered with the help of the environment. "
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