By Emily Taketa
Long term greenspace exposure is shown to increase a child’s white and grey matter volume in Barcelona Institute for Global Health’s “BREATHE project.” With collaboration from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and the Hospital del Mar, the study of 253 schoolchildren’s lifelong exposure to greenspaces and current brain anatomy was conducted to test specific cognitive processes. This study is the first to associate long-term surrounding greenness exposure to changes in the anatomical brain. The results connected the increased availability of greenspaces in a schoolchild’s surrounding environment with increased attentiveness and working memory capacity for children from ages seven to ten.
This study demonstrated that natural contact facilitates increased psychological restoration and beneficial brain development, providing evidence for the Biophilia hypothesis. The Biophilia hypothesis suggests an innate, evolutionary human affinity to connect with nature. Additionally, the increased greenspaces, and therefore decreased atmospheric and auditory pollution, in the surroundings could “enrich microbial inputs” indirectly improving brain development.
These studies of positive effects from childhood exposure to natural environments support existing studies urging cities to increase greenspace availability for their residents’ health. The extent and duration of greenspace exposure can have lasting impacts on a resident’s quality of life and cognitive development.
University of California - Los Angeles. "Being raised in greener neighborhoods may have beneficial effects on brain development." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2018.