Patelaki and colleagues add to the body of knowledge related to walking’s cognitive implications. They report that “Mobile brain/body imaging (M0BI) was used to record electroencephalographic (EEG) activity, 3-denstional (3D) gait kinematics and behavioral responses in the cognitive task, during sitting or walking on a treadmill. In a cohort of 26 young adults, 14 participants improved in measures of cognitive task performance while walking compared with sitting. . . In contrast, 12 participants . . . did not improve.”
Any Designed Environment
Obeidat and Jaradat found that it’s desirable to include human figures in digitally visualized architectural spaces. More details: “The use of human figures throughout the design process enables designers to experience, communicate, and evaluate design concepts. . . . an experimental study was conducted with first-year architecture students, in which they experienced three architectural scenes (non-presence of VHR [virtual human representation], presence of idle VHR, and presence of animated VHR).
Lieberman, in a study published in Psychological Review, probes how people come to understand the world in which they live. A press release related to his work asks “Why are we so sure that the way we see people, situations and politics is accurate, and the way other people see them is foolishly wrong? The answer, according to new research by UCLA psychology professor Matthew Lieberman, lies in a region of the brain he calls the ‘gestalt cortex,’ which helps people make sense of information that is ambiguous or incomplete — and dismiss alternative interpretations. . . .
Peng-Li and colleagues studied how sound influences food eaten. They report that “Soft nature sounds [ocean waves] and loud restaurant noises [chattering and tableware noises] were employed to induce emotional relaxation and arousal respectively. One hundred and one healthy university students completed a repeated-measure design of the LFPQ [Leeds Food Preference Questionnaire]; once with each soundscape playing in the background. . . . nature sounds increased explicit liking of healthy (vs.
Smith explores how humans experience time. He reports that “the passage of time is not directly perceived. . . . This conclusion is supported by the following observations: 1) down through the millennia, there have been recurrent ergonomic efforts to design technological proxies—from the pyramids to the atomic clock—for detecting the passage of time; and 2) these efforts point to our reliance on technology, rather than our own sensory feedback control capabilities, to track time.
Liu and colleagues probed how physical effort relates to assessments of natural beauty; their findings linking effort and judgments made are likely applicable more broadly than the tested condition. They report that “participants wearing a heavy backpack gave higher esthetic scores to and generate a strong attentional bias toward the green natural landscapes. Furthermore, the implicit association test (IAT) revealed that a green natural landscape was more readily associated with a high level of relaxation when the participants wore a backpack.
Radun and colleagues investigated the effects of impulsive sound on cognitive performance. They report that “Exposure to impulsive sound (65 dB LAeq) was compared with quiet sound (35 dB LAeq) and steady-state sound (65 dB LAeq). . . . Compared to quiet sound, impulsive sound caused more annoyance, workload, and lack of energy, raised cortisol concentrations, reduced systolic blood pressure, and decreased accuracy. . . . Compared with steady-state sound, impulsive sound was experienced as more annoying and causing a higher workload and more lack of energy.
Jia and colleagues studied factors influencing whether people feel crowded. They report that their work indicates “that walking velocity depicts pedestrian perceived congestion more accurately than density. . . . the larger the gap between the desired and actual velocities, the larger the extent of the perceived congestion.”
Now that the world is starting to return to its pre-2020 routines (and establish new ones, as needed), how should design evolve to reflect neuroscience research conducted during the pandemic and pre-COVID-19 studies that continue to be relevant?
Neuroscientists have developed a rich and nuanced understanding of how design can encourage us to act in ways that our societies value. Applying what investigators have learned makes life just a little bit (or a lot) better for us all.