What happens to the brain after an hour spent in nature – Corriere.it

from Silvia Turin

An experiment reveals the potential of a life more in contact with the environment. Not new to anyone dealing with psychological problems, but now there is proof. And enough time for a lunch break

What a living surrounded by nature Be aware: Research has linked urban environments to several psychological problems, such as an increased risk of anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders, including schizophrenia. A study conducted in Germany has now measured the changes that occur in the brain
even after only an hour spent in the midst (in this case) of trees and proved that nature is (immediately) good.


To prove their theory, published in Nature’s Molecular Psychiatry, the scientists of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which records changes in the brain in real time. 63 healthy adult volunteers were asked to fill out questionnaires, perform a working memory task, and undergo resonance scans while answering questions, some of which were designed to induce social stress. Participants did not know the purpose of the research. The subjects were then randomly assigned to two groups: one was supposed to take a one-hour walk in an urban setting (a lively shopping district in Berlin), the other in a natural one (the 3,000-hectare forest of Grunewald, also in Berlin). The researchers asked them to travel a specific route without using cell phones. After the walk, each participant performed another fMRI scan, with an additional stress-inducing task, and completed another questionnaire.

The benefits

The fMRI scans showed a reduced activity in the amygdala after a walk in the woods, the researchers report: the amygdala is a small structure at the center of the brain involved in stress processing, emotional learning, and the fight-or-flight response. Science indicates that the less activated amygdala during stress, which supports the idea that nature can trigger beneficial effects in regions of the brain involved in stress. And how much he can do in just 60 minutes. The findings support the previously hypothesized positive relationship between nature and brain health, but this is the first study to prove the causal link, says environmental neuroscientist Simone Khn, head of the Lise Meitner Group for Environmental Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human
Development. Previously, spending some (even little) time in nature had been associated (in other scientific studies) with a range of mental and physical health benefits, including lower blood pressure, reduced anxiety and depression, improved mood. , better concentration, better sleep, better memory and faster healing. Now the connection would appear to be proven.

How to live better

Further data concerns the group of people who walked in the city: although their amygdala activity has not decreased (as in those who have taken the walk in nature), it has not increased either. This does not mean that urban exposure cannot cause stress, but it could be a positive sign for city dwellers. Perhaps the stressful effect less potent or pervasive than other studies suggest, or perhaps walking within itself associated with mental benefits.
An hour spent on a lunch break in a garden or in an urban park could be enough to lower tensions.

September 27, 2022 (change September 27, 2022 | 11:51 am)

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About Banner Leon

Videogames entered his life in the late '80s, at the time of the first meeting with Super Mario Bros, and even today they make it a permanent part, after almost 30 years. Pros and defects: he manages to finish Super Mario Bros in less than 5 minutes but he has never finished Final Fight with a credit ... he's still trying.

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