Having a good memory for the layouts of environments and being better able to identify odors were linked by Dahmani and colleagues. They report that “It was recently proposed that olfaction evolved to aid navigation. . . . Our findings reveal an intrinsic relationship between olfaction and spatial memory that is supported by a shared reliance on the hippocampus and medial orbitofrontal cortex. This relationship may find its roots in the parallel evolution of the olfactory and hippocampal systems.”
Maier and Rahman have gathered more evidence indicating that languages spoken influence how environments are consciously perceived. The team determined that “Native Greek speakers . . . who [because their native language is Greek] distinguish categorically between light and dark shades of blue, showed boosted perception for this contrast. . . . Electrophysiological signatures of early visual processing predicted this behavioral advantage. . . . Our native language is thus one of the forces that determine what we consciously perceive."
The mental wellbeing of people who commute daily through natural environments seems to be higher than the mental wellbeing of people who commute through natural environments less often. Researchers have found via an analysis of survey data from nearly 3,600 people living in Barcelona (Spain), Doetinchem (the Netherlands), Kaunas (Lithuania) , and Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom) that “people who commute through natural environments report better mental health.” Natural environments “were defined as all public and private outdoor spaces that contain ‘green’ and/or ‘blue’ natural elements suc
A research team lead by Harada has confirmed that smelling lavender is relaxing. The compound in lavender responsible for this effect is linalool.
Hiroki Harada, Hideki Kashiwadani, Yuichi Kanmura, and Tomoyuki Kuwaki. “Linalool Odor-Induced Anxiolytic Effects in Mice.” Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, in press, https://doi.org/10.3389/fnbeh.2018.00241
Kwon and Kim investigated how soundscapes influenced attention to various design elements in coffee shops. Data collected via eye-tracking and interviews were analyzed as part of their study, which “explored how visual attention to the interior elements of commercial settings was affected by auditory stimuli. . . . photo images of coffee shops were used as visual stimuli. . . . As auditory stimuli, two songs in different genres were used: soft pop . . . and dance-pop. . . .
Stelick and colleagues’ research indicates that the environment in which food is consumed influences tastes perceived. As they report, “Eating is a multimodal experience. When we eat, we perceive not just the taste and aroma of foods, but also their visual, auditory, and tactile properties, as well as sensory input from our surroundings. . . . Virtual environments were formed by processing custom‐recorded 360 degree videos and overlaying audio, text, sensory scales, and images to simulate a typical sensory evaluation ballot within the VR headset. . . .
Holmes, a leading inclusive designer, particularly of technology products, has written an important guide to her field, Mismatch: How Inclusion Shapes Design. As the sell materials for her book note (at https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/mismatch): “Sometimes designed objects reject their users: a computer mouse that doesn't work for left-handed people, for example, or a touchscreen payment system that only works for people who read English phrases, have 20/20 vision, and use a credit card.
Hirst and Schabenland studied the effects of office design on employees’ psychological comfort. A press release Anglia Ruskin University issued related to their research reports that the duo found that “Employees subconsciously act and dress differently in modern open-plan office environments. . . . [Hirst and Schabenland]over the course of three years analysed the behaviour of around 1,000 employees at a UK local authority that moved from six separate departmental buildings into a . . .
Kelsey and colleagues investigated how design can influence donations to charities. They “compared prosocial behavior in the presence of eyes versus inanimate objects as well as other human features. The study was conducted as a field experiment at a children’s museum. Each week, the donation signs were changed to show eyes, noses, mouths, or chairs. Total donation amount and number of patrons per week were recorded. Participants donated more when they were exposed to eyes than to inanimate objects (chairs). We thus replicated the previously reported watching-eyes effect.
If you’ll be in London between now and March 3, 2019, you can visit the Living with Buildings exhibit at the Wellcome Collection. It focuses on the question “We’re surrounded by buildings all the time, but how do they affect our physical and mental health?” There is more information about the exhibit at the web address below.