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This content was previously published for the April 2022 issue.

Research Conversations


It’s great when there’re resources (time, money, and otherwise) to thoroughly deal with all of the sensory issues that might arise in a workplace—but that’s often not the case.  Neuroscience research can guide you to highest priority actions.


When we look around we often see patterns—in upholstery, wall coverings, and elsewhere.  The effects of visual patterns on how we think and behave have been thoroughly investigated by neuroscientists.  

Spaces for learning need to be carefully designed and managed—our brains perform much better in some places that others and our tired heads need opportunities to refresh if they’re going to continue to develop knowledge and skills. Applying what neuroscientists have learned about design-learning connections makes “lessons” more productive and positive experiences more likely. 

The temperature of air surrounding us has a dramatic effect on how we experience a space and what we do/think while we’re in it.  The highlights of neuroscience research on our “best temperatures,” how design can influence how warm/cold we think a space is, and why ambient temperature matters at all are reviewed here.

PlaceCoach News Briefs

Both boost wellbeing

More insights into neurodiversity

Intriguing links

Awe, beauty evaluated

Significant effects found

Our better space forms

Assessment drivers identified

Book Reviews


Putting behavior in its place

Classic Articles

Researchers Sandra Whitehouse, James W. Varner, Michael Seid, Clare Cooper Marcus, Mary Jane Ensberg, Jennifer Jacobs and Robyn Mehlenbeck examined the Leichtag Healing Garden at the Children’s Hospital and Health Center in San Diego to identify aspects of gardens that relax and heal. Originally published in Issue 3, 2002.


Building a diversified mix of stores, restaurants, and entertainment venues can draw pedestrians to urban centers and spur further economic development. Creating the initial nucleus for such development, though, is often difficult. One study reviews relevant research on these “catalytic buildings” to see what is known about their effectiveness. Originally published in Issue 1, 2003.


Transportation and health experts continue to tout the benefits of walking for exercise and for neighborhood errands. One recent review examines eighteen separate studies on walking to determine common factors in the environment that might help or hinder walking, while another lays out guidelines to help quantify what makes a street or walkway comfortable for pedestrians—laying the groundwork for an assessment tool. Originally published in Issue 4, 2004.

Measures to protect pedestrian safety sometimes seem counter-intuitive. What interventions are effective, and what can we do to reconcile the difference between what is safer, and what we think is safer? Originally published in Issue 3, 2004.


Evidence from two recent studies support the view that trees and grass around public housing sites can reduce some aggression and deter crime. Originally published in Issue 1, 2002.


Trail through a natural wetland

Visits to parks and natural areas have long been known to provide mental and psychological benefits. Supporting ecological diversity within those human-managed areas is often another important goal. More research is now being done on how those two aims may differ or align.