Nature’s Cognitive Benefits (08-02-19)

Schertz and Berman reviewed published studies exploring the cognitive repercussions of being exposed to nature.  They determined that exposure to a variety of natural stimuli (vs. urban stimuli) consistently improves working memory performance. . . . Overall, there is compelling evidence to support the advice of Thoreau and Murray to spend time in nature. Exposure to natural environments has been shown to improve performance on working memory, cognitive-flexibility, and attentional-control tasks. These results come from studies conducted using a variety of simulated environments (e.g., images, sounds, virtual reality) as well as real-world environmental exposure.. . . One potential mechanism that has emerged for these effects involves the perception of the low-level features of the environment. . . . low-level features include color properties—such as hue, saturation, and brightness (value)—as well as spatial properties—such as the density of straight and nonstraight edges and entropy. . . . Natural environments in general have more nonstraight edges, less color saturation, and less variability of hues.”

Kathryn Schertz and Marc Berman.  “Understanding Nature and Its Cognitive Benefits.”  Current Directions in Psychological Science, in press, https://doi.org/10.1177/0963721419854100