It is Good for You to Spend Time in Natural Environments

This post is based on a presentation titled “Modulation of Cognitive Restoration Dependent on Time Spent in Natural Environments” by Rachel J. Hopman, Sarah B. Lotemplio, Emily Scott, and David L. Strayer at the 2018 Meeting of the Psychonomic Society.

Attention Restoration Theory says that spending time in natural environments can restore cognitive functioning, decrease stress, and improve cognitive performance. EEG research shows that those who have spent prolonged time in natural environments have decreased theta power (4-8Hz) in the mid frontal regions due to down regulation of the attentional control network, thus restoring neural regions associated with attentional processing. However, research has yet to determine the time course of the restorative experience.

In a series of studies EEG recordings were collected during a resting baseline period from 104 participants before, during, and after a nature trip to determine amount of change in neural activity associated with attentional fatigue. Midfrontal theta power significantly decreased from pre-trip testing each day during the nature exposure and increased each week after the trip. These results show that exposure to natural environments influences attentional processing and that these effects are additive over time.

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