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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Available from: Marc G Berman
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    • "There is an existing body of evidence that outlines the range of health and well-being benefits people can gain from accessing woodlands and greenspace7891011121314151617. Our research adds to this body of evidence by focusing specifically on peri-urban woodlands near to large centres of population. "

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    • "The benefits to well-being of interacting with nature have frequently been demonstrated (Park et al. 2010; Matsuura et al. 2011; Thompson Coon et al. 2011; Marselle et al. 2013; Haluza et al. 2014; Hartig et al. 2014) and explained in terms of both the innate affiliation with nature that humans may have (Wilson 1984), as well as the restorative effects nature can have on attention processes (Kaplan 1995; Tennessen & Cimprich 1995; Hartig et al. 2003; Berman et al. 2008; Kjellgren & Buhrkall 2010). Of interest is how perceptions of nature are constructed from the integration of various types of exteroceptive sensory information (Heerwagen 2009). "
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