How does light experienced during the day influence sleep? Figueiro and colleagues set out to answer this question. They used an online survey “to quantify potential changes in daytime light exposures resulting from teleworking or self-isolating at home [during the Covid-19 pandemic] and how those changes might have affected self-reported sleep quality, psychological health and emotional health. The first survey was administered in early May 2020, and the second survey was administered in September 2020.
Kuhn and colleagues evaluated how time in nature affects conditions in the brain. The researchers report that “A whole-brain analysis [conducted via MRI] revealed that time spent outdoors was positively associated with grey matter volume in the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and positive affect, also after controlling for physical activity, fluid intake, free time, and hours of sunshine. Results indicate remarkable and potentially behaviorally relevant plasticity of cerebral structure within a short time frame driven by the daily time spent outdoors.
Hoki, Sato, and Kasai’s work indicates why adding carpeting to a space can be a good idea. The researchers “focused on the effects of indoor flooring in the residential environment on stress, as flooring is a feature that the human body is in contact with for long periods of time. We objectively measured the extent of psychological stress perceived while walking on carpeting and on wood flooring.” Study participants “were asked to walk on carpeting and wood flooring for 10 min each.
Chernev and Blair’s research (four empirical studies) enriches previously derived insights related to encouraging the use of sustainable options. They report that “Prior research has suggested that consumers believe that products made using sustainable, environmentally friendly technologies are likely to underperform those made using traditional methods. . . . we argue that sustainability is likely to produce a halo effect able to attenuate [reduce] and even override the negative impact of . . .
Neo, Shepley, and Niederdeppe evaluated how what’s seen can influence responses to what’s heard. They collected data in “two noise (High: 75dB LAeq, low: 30dB LAeq) and two message (noise-related visual cue or not) conditions. . . . half of the respondents saw a flyer with a noise-related visual cue (an emoji with both hands to its ears) while the other half saw a flyer without such a cue (an emoji without hands or ears). . .
Ganesh and colleagues investigated how temperature influences user comfort. They found via a literature review that “Improving indoor thermal comfort depends mainly on two major factors, air temperature, and air movement. . . . . To improve IAQ and minimize the threat of cross-infection from various airborne diseases, the higher ACR [air change rate] at low airspeed should be used reliant on the occupancy capacity of the room.”
Khodasevich and teammates investigated how artificial light can support circadian rhythms. They “measured light exposure and wrist temperature among residents of an urban area during each of the four seasons. . . . Our results demonstrate that humans are minimizing natural seasonal differences in light exposure, and that circadian shifts and disruptions may be a more regular occurrence in the general population than is currently recognized. . . .
Wang and colleagues extensively reviewed links between indoor environmental quality (IEQ) and mental achievement presented in the peer-reviewed literature. They report that “The present review decomposes IEQ into five factors—indoor air quality, the thermal environment, lighting, noise, and non-light visual factors. It divided cognition into five categories—attention, perception, memory, language function, and higher order cognitive skills. . . . results show that poor IEQ conditions are but not always associated with reduced cognition.
A new book reviews how future cities should be designed; conclusions are drawn from data collected during visits to 53 cities in 30 different countries and conversations with a variety of experts. The Ideal City’s website reports that “our vision for the cities of tomorrow is built around five guiding principles. . . . A resourceful city manages to be both ecologically and economically sustainable. . . . An accessible city is built for diversity, inclusion, and equality. . . . A shared city fosters a sense of community, collaboration, and togetherness. . .
Recent research verifies that being depressed influences how people see the world, literally. Salmela, Socada, Söderholm, Heikkilä, Lahti, Ekelund, and Isometsä “confirmed that the processing of visual information is altered in depressed people, a phenomenon most likely linked with the processing of information in the cerebral cortex.