Our physical environment influences our cravings for alcohol, cigarettes, and harmful foods. Researchers have determined that “Green views were inversely associated with craving strength and frequency. . . . Access to a garden/allotment was inversely associated with craving. . .
Any Designed Environment
Sinclair and colleagues investigated the implications of listening to music. They report that “Music streaming, structured by an expanding network of social interdependencies (e.g. musicians, sound engineers, computer scientists and distributors) has made it easier to consume music in a wider number of social and private spaces and to a greater degree. . . . We argue that music is used to demarcate, transition between, and blur space.
Li, Chen, and Zhang investigated links between music tempo, fatigue, and attention. As they report, “drivers were enrolled in four sessions of real-road driving tests under the following four music conditions: no music, slow tempo, medium tempo and fast tempo. . . . Of the three tempos, medium-tempo music is the best choice to reduce fatigue and maintain attention for a long-distance driving. Slow-tempo music can temporarily boost the quality of attention, but after a long period of driving, it significantly deteriorates the driver’s levels of fatigue and attention.
Forder and Lupyan studied perception of colors. They report that “simply hearing color words enhances categorical color perception, improving people’s accuracy in discriminating between simultaneously presented colors in an untimed task. Immediately after hearing a color word participants were better able to distinguish between colors from the named category and colors from nearby categories. Discrimination between typical and atypical category members was also enhanced. Verbal cues slightly decreased discrimination accuracy between two typical shades of the named color. . . .
A study published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society Bindicates that there are important similarities in emotional responses to a range of real world experiences. A press release issued by Dartmouth related to the research efforts, lead by Sievers, states that “Death metal band logos often have a spiky look while romance novel titles often have a swirly script. The jaggedness or curviness of a font can be used to express an emotional tone. . . . sounds, shapes, speech and body movements convey emotional arousal the same way across the senses.
Schertz and colleagues studied how seeing different sorts of lines influences human thoughts. They “experimentally manipulated exposure to specific visual features. . . . Results . . . showed a potential causal effect of . . . non-straight edges on thinking about topics related to “Spiritual & Life Journey”, with . . . non-straight edges having a positive relationship. . .
New research sheds light on the uncanny valley phenomenon. As a Rosenthal-von der Putten-lead team reports, “Artificial agents are becoming prevalent across human life domains. However, the neural mechanisms underlying human responses to these new, artificial social partners remain unclear. The Uncanny-Valley (UV) hypothesis predicts that humans prefer anthropomorphic agents but reject them if they become too human-like—the so-called UV reaction. Using functional MRI, we investigated neural activity when subjects evaluated artificial agents and made decisions about them. . . . .
Research by Pantzar and colleagues confirms the value of supporting employee efforts to exercise, via onsite exercise facilities, for example. The investigators report that “Aerobic exercise influence cognition in elderly, children, and neuropsychiatric populations. . . . The sample consisted of . . .office workers. . . . A cognitive test battery (9 tests), assessed processing speed, working memory, executive functions and episodic memory. . . . Groups of moderate . . . and high . . . fitness outperformed the group of low . . .
Feeling in control of our environment is good for our cognitive and physical health and welfare.
The neuroscience research is clear—environmentally responsible design is good for more than just