Latest Blog Posts

Sathian and Lacey probed relationships between sensory experiences.  They determined that “The sensory systems responsible for touch, vision, and hearing have traditionally been regarded as mostly separate. Contrary to this dogma, recent work has shown that interactions between the senses are robust and abundant. Touch and vision are both commonly used to obtain information about a number of object properties, and they share perceptual and neural representations in many domains. . . . Touch and hearing both rely in part on temporal-frequency information, which leads to a number of audiotactile interactions reflecting a good deal of perceptual and neural overlap. The focus in sensory neuroscience and psychophysics is now on characterizing the multisensory interactions that lead to humans’ panoply of perceptual experiences.”

K. Sathian and Simon Lacey.  “Cross-Modal Interactions of the Tactile System.”  Current Directions in Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/09637214221101877

Research by Goldy, Jones, and Piff confirms the value of being awed; humans can be awed by a variety of conditions, including exquisite workmanship.  The investigators determined that “Relative to individuals residing outside the [2017 solar] eclipse’s path, individuals inside it exhibited more awe and expressed less self-focused and more prosocial [beneficial to others], affiliative, humble, and collective language. . . .  Further, individuals who exhibited elevated awe surrounding the eclipse used more prosocial, affiliative, humble, and collective language relative to their preeclipse levels and relative to users who exhibited less awe. . . . These findings indicate that astronomical events may play a vital collective function by arousing awe and social tendencies that orient individuals toward their collectives.”

Sean Goldy, Nickolas Jones, and Paul Piff.  “The Social Effects of an Awesome Solar Eclipse.”  Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/09567976221085501

Gellisch and teammates probed the implications of attending classes face-to-face or remotely; their findings are likely applicable in other situations, such as workplace contexts.  The investigators report that “To examine the implications of the transition from face-to-face to online learning from a psychobiological perspective, this study investigated potential differences in physiological stress parameters of students engaged in online or face-to-face learning. . . . medical students . . . attended either regular face-to-face classes of the microscopic anatomy course or the same practical course online using Zoom videoconferencing platform. . . . A significant reduction in HRV [heart rate variability] was found in face-to-face learning, suggesting stronger stress responses in the face-to-face learning environment. . . . participants engaged in face-to-face learning showed significantly higher cortisol concentrations. . . . Additionally, increased sympathetic activation correlated with the discrete positive emotion of enjoyment exclusively within the face-to-face condition.  In short, the group taking the class remotely was less energized/activated by the educational experience. Also, the in-person classes were enjoyed more as energy levels built.

Morris Gellisch, Oliver Wolf, Nina Minkley, Wolfgang Kirchner, Martin Brune, and Beate Brand-Saberi.  “Decreased Sympathetic Cardiovascular Influences and Hormone-Physiological Changes in Response to Covid-19-Related Adaptations Under Different Learning Environments.”  Anatomical Sciences Education, in press, https://doi.org/10.1002/ase.2213

Garrido-Cumbrera and colleagues’ work confirms the value of nature views.  The researchers determined via data collected during the pandemic’s first wave in Spain, Ireland, and England that “having poorer quality of views from home led to poor well-being among participants. Our study highlights the importance of continued physical activity and views of nature to improve the well-being of individuals during times of crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Marco Garrido-Cumbrera, Ronan Foley, Jose Correa-Fernandez Alicia Marin, Olta Brace, and Denise Hewlett.  “The Importance for Wellbeing of Having Views of Nature From and In the Home During the COVID-19 Pandemic.  Results from the GreenCOVID Study.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, in press, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101864

New research confirms the value of listening to natural soundscapes.  In a recent study “EEG and Heart Rate data were recorded from 10 participants within an [real-world] office in London.  Each participant listened to a Moodsonic Soundscape (lapping lake waves) . . . and typical office sounds while they performed a series of tasks; Stroop Test (cognition), Alternative Uses Test (creativity).  . . . Comparative measures were taken from the typical office sounds and Moodsonic soundscape conditions to compare states of relaxation, engagement, creativity and speed of correct completion. The Moodsonic soundscape increased the relaxation response in individuals compared to typical office sounds.  . . . Participants were able to focus better, with greater attention, as reflected by the increased speed of correct completion of the cognitive tasks when listening to the Moodsonic soundscape. . . . Participants scored higher in creativity, as measured by the number of answers provided in the Divergent Thinking Task [when listening to the lapping waves].”

Moodsonic.  2022. “Nature-Based Immersion in the Workplace.” https://moodsonic-soundscapes.s3.eu-west-2.amazonaws.com/Web+assets/Nature-based+immersion+in+the+workplace.pdf?utm_source=sendinblue&utm_campaign=Newsletter%20Aug%202022&utm_medium=email

Research by Mueller and colleagues confirms the challenges of managing noise in open-plan offices.  They share that “Office workers lately use active noise-cancelling (ANC) headphones to improve the acoustic situation by blocking unwanted sound. . . . Two studies were conducted to examine if ANC headphones improve cognitive performance and the subjective well-being of employees in an open-plan office. . . . The participants were tested in silence, speech without headphones, speech with ANC headphones switched off and speech with ANC headphones switched on.  No statistically significant differences were found between the conditions with ANC headphones switched on and off as well as without headphones for cognitive performance.  However, ANC headphones statistically significantly improved subjective assessments such as perceived privacy and the assessment of the acoustic environment.”

Benjamin Mueller, Andreas Liebl, Noemi Herget, Dorina Kohler, and Philip Leistner.  “Using Active Noise-Cancelling (ANC) Headphones in Open-Plan Offices:  No Influence on Cognitive Performance But Improvement of Perceived Privacy and Acoustic Environment.”  Frontiers in Built Environment, in press, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fbuil.2022.962462/abstract

New research confirms the value of circadian and natural lighting.  Teruel and colleagues determined that “Disruption of the circadian clocks that keep the body and its cells entrained to the 24-hour day-night cycle plays a critical role in weight gain. . .  factors that throw the body’s ‘clocks’ out of rhythm may contribute to weight gain.”

“Circadian Clocks Play a Key Role in Fat Cell Growth.”  2022.  Press release, Weill Cornell Medicine, https://news.weill.cornell.edu/news/2022/08/circadian-clocks-play-a-key-role-in-fat-cell-growth

Jiang and Sidikides identify another positive ramification of feeling awed; design can induce awe in a variety of ways, including via material use and exceptional workmanship.  The research duo report that “the emotion of awe . . . awakens self-transcendence (i.e., reaching beyond one’s self-boundary), which in turn invigorates pursuit of the authentic self (i.e., alignment with one’s true self). . . . awe-induced authentic-self pursuit was linked with higher general prosociality [acts that benefit others], but lower inauthentic prosociality.”

T. Jiang and C. Sidikides.  2022. “Awe Motivates Authentic-Self Pursuit Via Self-Transcendence:  Implications for Prosociality.”  Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, vol. 123, no. 3, pp. 576-596, https://doi.org/10.1037/pspi0000381

Gjerde and Vale asked people walking along an urban street about their visual preferences.  They report that “The appearance of the built environment is an important matter for most people, as it can affect their physical, financial and psychological wellbeing. . . . People were invited to indicate their preferences while walking along three streets in New Zealand cities. The survey responses were supplemented by two focus group discussions. . . . people prefer streetscapes where differences in height and architectural composition vary within a narrow band of difference along the length of the street. At the scale of the individual building façade, people were found to prefer traditional cladding materials such as brick and those that could be painted or refinished. Compositionally, people preferred buildings with discrete window openings, a finding that was strongly supported by a dislike for horizontally banded façade treatments. The findings invite questions around contemporary architectural design practices and how these can be directed toward creating a better liked built environment.”

Morten Gjerde and Brenda Vale.  “An Examination of People’s Preferences for Buildings and Streetscapes in New Zealand.”  Australian Planner, in press, https://doi.org/10.1080/07293682.2022.2029922

Das and Gailey’s work confirms the value of exercising in green environments via data collected during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The research duo report that “Previous cross-sectional literature reports protective effects of outdoor exposure on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We longitudinally assess whether green exercise corresponded with a decline in adverse mental health symptoms, controlling for state lockdown policies. . . . we specificized participation in an outdoor walk, jog, or hike (green exercise). . . . results indicate a modest decline in PHQ-4 [patient health] scores of approximately 0.10 (less mental health symptoms) as a function of green exercise, controlling for state lockdown status. . . . green exercise, as opposed to indoor exercise, corresponds with a decrease in PHQ-4 scores during lockdown. Contact with nature may improve mood and decrease mental health symptoms, especially during stress-inducing periods such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Green exercise as a recommended behavioral intervention may hold relevance for greater public health.”

Abhery Das and Samantha Gailey.  2022. “Green Exercise, Mental Health Symptoms, and State Lockdown Policies:  A Longitudinal Study.”  Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 82, 101848, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2022.101848

Pages

Subscribe to Latest Blog Posts