Parks: An Antidote to 'Brain Fatigue'

Scientists have long theorized that natural settings can help us manage the stress induced by urban living. New research made possible by advances in EEG technology has confirmed the restorative effects of parks.

"The idea that visiting green spaces like parks or tree-filled plazas lessens stress and improves concentration is not new," writes Gretchen Reynolds. "But it had not been possible to study the brains of people while they were actually outside, moving through the city and the parks. Or it wasn’t, until the recent development of a lightweight, portable version of the electroencephalogram, a technology that studies brain wave patterns."

"For the new study, published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh and the University of Edinburgh attached these new, portable EEGs to the scalps of 12 healthy young adults."

In observing the brain waves of the volunteers as they traversed urban and park-like sections of Edinburgh, the researchers found that "[w]hile traveling through the park, the walkers were mentally quieter," confirming that "green spaces lessen brain fatigue."

“'Natural environments still engage' the brain, said [Jenny Roe, a professor who oversaw the study], but the attention demanded 'is effortless. It’s called involuntary attention in psychology. It holds our attention while at the same time allowing scope for reflection,' and providing a palliative to the nonstop attentional demands of typical, city streets."

Full Story: Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park

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