Seed contributor Jonah Lehrer posts to Scienceblogs about the brain-boosting effects of a stroll in the woods:
Because you can’t help but stop and notice the reddish orange twilight sky – paying attention to the sunset doesn’t take any extra work or cognitive control – our attentional circuits are able to refresh themselves. A walk in the woods is like a vacation for the prefrontal cortex.
Strolling in a city, however, forces the brain to constantly remain vigilant, as we avoid obstacles (moving cars), ignore irrelevant stimuli (that puppy in the window) and try not to get lost.
Lehrer’s reflection is based on a new study appearing in the Journal of Environmental Psychology which concludes that: “Natural environments turn out to be particularly rich in the characteristics necessary for restorative experiences.”
I instinctively accept this as truth; it’s been too long since I was out somewhere wild.