What if Beautiful Green Poetry Could Affect Brain Health?
Here are three articles on the positive effect of green space on the brain, health and wellness. I wonder what the affect of using color words to create vivid images in poetry can do for the brain.
Lee, H. J. and D. K. Lee (2019). "Do Sociodemographic Factors and Urban Green Space Affect Mental Health Outcomes Among the Urban Elderly Population?" Int J Environ Res Public Health 16(5). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30836691
Chen, Z., Y. He, et al. (2016). "Enhanced functional connectivity properties of human brains during in-situ nature experience." PeerJ 4: e2210.
Groenewegen PP, den Berg AE, de Vries S, Verheij RA. 2006. Vitamin G: effects of green space on health, well-being, and social safety. BMC Public Health 6:149 DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-6-149. [Full Article] https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1471-2458-6-149
The Brain in a Green Environment
In this study on how people's brains respond to a green natural environment researchers noted, "analyses revealed that a brief [20 minutes] in-situ restorative nature experience may induce more efficient and stronger brain connectivity with enhanced small-world properties compared with a stressful urban experience. The enhanced small-world properties were found to be correlated with "coherent" experience measured by Perceived Restorativeness Scale (PRS). Exposure to nature also induces stronger long-term correlated activity across different brain regions with a right lateralization.
Researchers, "intentionally selected two typical sites with representative slopes: a wooded campus garden for the nature scene and a traffic island under an elevated highway for the urban scene. From where the participants were seated, the nature scene consisted of 89% visible greenery and water and only 4% visible buildings and/or paved areas; the urban scene consisted of only 8% visible greenery and 56% visible buildings and/or paved areas. Based on a focus group interview after a site visit, the nature environment is highly restorative whereas the urban environment is clearly not. In-situ environmental stimuli were adopted instead of pictorial representations to capture the multisensory experiences of the nature and urban environments."
Concluding researchers said, "These findings may advance our understanding of the functional activities during in-situ environmental exposures and imply that a nature or nature-like environment may potentially benefit cognitive processes and mental well-being."
- Chen, Z., Y. He, et al. (2016). "Enhanced functional connectivity properties of human brains during in-situ nature experience." PeerJ 4: e2210.
Vitamin G for Green
One of the articles referenced was Groenewegen PP, den Berg AE, de Vries S, Verheij RA. 2006. Vitamin G: effects of green space on health, well-being, and social safety. BMC Public Health 6:149 DOI 10.1186/1471-2458-6-149. https://bmcpublichealth.biomedcentral.com/track/pdf/10.1186/1471-2458-6-149
"This research has demonstrated that mere exposure to views of nature can improve people's health and well-being by providing restoration from stress and mental fatigue."
Researchers noted, "previous experimental research in environmental psychology has shown that a natural environment has a positive effect on well-being through restoration of stress and attentional fatigue. Descriptive epidemiological research has shown a positive relationship between the amount of green space in the living environment and physical and mental health and longevity The program has three aims. First, to document the relationship between the amount and type of green space in people's living environment and their health, well-being, and feelings of safety. Second, to investigate the mechanisms behind this relationship. Mechanisms relate to exposure (leading to stress reduction and attention restoration), healthy behavior and social integration, and selection. Third, to translate the results into policy on the crossroads of spatial planning, public health, and safety. Strong points of our program are: we study several interrelated dependent variables, in different ordinary settings (as opposed to experimental or extreme settings), focusing on different target groups, using appropriate multilevel methods."
Defining green space, researchers said, "restorative effects can be achieved by merely looking at nature or natural elements, indicating that the aesthetic experience of nature may play a role in this mechanism. Besides providing relief from stress, an aesthetically attractive living environment may also improve well-being by enhancing satisfaction, attachment, and a sense of responsibility. Related to stress reduction, (American) evidence suggests that exposure to natural environments may reduce feelings of anger, frustration and aggression (e.g., ). In turn, this may enhance feelings of social safety, and even reduce actual rates of aggressive behavior and criminal activity. Physical exposure to cleaner air may play a role also. Traffic density seems to be the most important source of polluted air in the direct vicinity, while the overall level of air pollution is rather constant in The Netherlands "
Another most recent article noted, "the mounting mental health issues faced by elderly urban residents increase the social and economic costs to society associated with dementia and depression. Therefore, it is necessary to identify the characteristics of elderly urban residents suffering from mental health issues, to address these issues more effectively. We used 2015 Community Health Survey data from the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to identify the demographic and social characteristics of 11,408 elderly urban residents in relation to stress levels and symptoms of depression in seven metropolitan areas in Korea, and to calculate the odds ratio for urban green space. We found that the prevalence of these mental health issues generally decreased in relation to the ratio of green space of an area. These findings suggest identifying elderly people who are vulnerable to certain mental health issues based on demographic and social characteristics and demonstrate that the ratio of urban green space within a community is an important component in improving mental health outcomes for elderly urban residents. These findings have policy implications for assisting elderly people vulnerable to certain mental health issues and for establishing a green welfare policy targeting this population."
- Lee, H. J. and D. K. Lee (2019). "Do Sociodemographic Factors and Urban Green Space Affect Mental Health Outcomes Among the Urban Elderly Population?" Int J Environ Res Public Health 16(5). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30836691
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