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

ABSTRACT 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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Available from: Marc G Berman, Sep 28, 2015
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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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    • "This happens when people direct attention towards tasks while drawing on an inhibitory mechanism to block out external distractions (Kaplan, 1995). Attention restoration theory (Kaplan, 1995; Kaplan & Kaplan, 1989) argues that restorative nature gently captures attention involuntarily in an automatic reflexive manner via fascination , reducing demands on the limited resources available to voluntarily direct attention (Berman et al., 2008; Kaplan, 1995). "
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