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Experience Nature to Improve Mental Process

Experience Nature to Improve Mental ProcessIf you live in the city, a new study in Psychological Science reveals that spending time in nature can restore and benefit mental processes.

Psychologists Marc G. Berman, John Jonides, and Stephen Kaplan from the University of Michigan designed two experiments to test how interactions with nature and urban environments would affect attention and memory processes.

First, a group of volunteers completed a task designed to challenge memory and attention. The volunteers then took a walk in either a park or in downtown Ann Arbor. After the walk, volunteers returned to the lab and were retested on the task.

In the second experiment, after volunteers completed the task, instead of going out for a walk, they simply viewed either nature photographs or photographs of urban environments and then repeated the task.

The results were quite interesting. In the first experiment, performance on the memory and attention task greatly improved following the walk in the park, but did not improve for volunteers who walked downtown.

And it is not just being outside that is beneficial for mental functions — the group who viewed the nature photographs performed much better on the retest than the group who looked at city scenes.

The authors suggest that urban environments provide a relatively complex and often confusing pattern of stimulation, which requires effort to sort out and interpret.

Natural environments, by contrast, offer a more coherent (and often more aesthetic) pattern of stimulation that, far from requiring effort, are often experienced as restful.

Thus being in the context of nature is effortless, permitting us to replenish our capacity to attend and having a restorative effect on our mental abilities.

Source: American Psychological Association

Experience Nature to Improve Mental Process

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Experience Nature to Improve Mental Process. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 22, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2008/12/19/experience-nature-to-improve-mental-process/3534.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
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