Friday, October 31, 2008

Nature is good for you

Tara Parker-Pope had a great article in the New York Times on Monday that discusses research demonstrating that nature helps alleviate brain fatigue. She writes:

"As it turns out, everyone appears to benefit from the restorative powers of nature. ... The human brain has two forms of attention: “directed” attention, which is what we use most of the time to concentrate on work, studies and tests, and “involuntary” attention, which is what occurs when we automatically respond to things like running water, crying babies or wild animals.

The problem is that directed attention is a finite resource — everyone has experienced the fatigue of taking a test or a big project at work. Attention restoration theory suggests that walks in nature and views of green space capture our involuntary attention, giving our directed attention a needed rest."

This has some interesting implications for the designs of schools, office buildings, and work environments of all kinds, as well as the "design" of the work and educational schedules for everyone. More frequent breaks with more ready access to nature may be justified on many, many levels.

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