News Brief

Research Finds Nature Imagery Improves Attention

Recent research published in the journal

Psychological Science gives a boost to the

biophilia hypothesis, which suggests that humans have an innate affinity for nature and that we benefit from exposure to nature—even through images (see

EBN

Vol. 15, No. 7).

Subjects in a University of Michigan study were given a task that required deliberate focus before and after walking about three miles either in a park or in a busy urban area. Both mood and performance improved after subjects walked in the park but did not improve after the urban walk. In a second experiment, subjects were shown photographs of either natural or urban environments. They were given a task structured to engage and tire three distinct mental functions: alertness, orientation, and attention. Attention improved following exposure to the nature imagery.

The researchers suggest that while urban environments make powerful demands on attention, natural environments allow the faculty of directed attention to rest and recover.

 

Published January 29, 2009

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