Neuroscience & Evidence-Based Design

The quality of lifelong exposure to certain views and landscapes can improve or deteriorate our mental health and well-being. According to the existing consensus among researchers, the exposure to nature can improve overall health and quality of life, but the availability of this contact with nature in our rapidly urbanizing world is decreasing. Moreover, it has been shown that urbanization is one of the key factors in the growing burden of mental health disease.  It is then vital to identify which aspects, types and components of natural environments should be introduced and protected within the city, and what specific effects they have on human mental health and well-being.

We focus on multidisciplinary research to answer important issues such as: identifying specific landscape types that are most beneficial for mental health, investigating the dose-response mechanisms, testing new self-care interventions for healthy individuals as well as pathology-based personalized interventions,  and developing VR healthy environments. In this program we focus on clinical trials using rigorous bio physiological markers of mental health and well-being. We seek research funding from international organizations and individuals to conduct and share our research with the community and decision makers.

Associated Research Projects:

Virtual Healthy Environments for Mental health and Well-Being

01.06.2019 – ongoing  | self-funded

The goal of the project is to develop a mental health & well-being self-care tool, based on VR simulations of landscapes which contain attributes derived from evidence-based design, tested scientifically regarding the VHE's potential to improve mental health, well-being and cognitive performance in users. The personalised interventions targeting various mental health issues and pathologies are being developed.

Effects of Landscapes on the Brain

20.08.2018 – ongoing  | NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE, National Parks Board

Urban green spaces (UGSs) play a major role in mitigating the negative effects of urban environment exposures on MH&WB. There is an established consensus among researchers that contact with natural environments has a beneficial influence on MH&WB of people. However, most studies are based on a vague comparison between “urban” versus “nature” exposure, while more specific elements and attributes of UGS, and their composition have not been, to date, identified. Moreover, the knowledge in this area is based mostly on the correlational analyses, and more rigorous experimental approached are needed to examine causal relationships between specific environmental features and mental health that will form the basis of future urban landscape design. There is a need to identify which specific types of natural environments found in cities have the most beneficial effects on people’s MH&WB. Moreover, there is a need to assess these effects through rigorous experimental designs, with the use of objective tools and objective markers of mental health in order to examine causality [read more].

Window View and the Brain: Effects of Floor Level and Green Cover on the Alpha and Beta Rhythms in a Passive Exposure EEG Experiment

01.06.2017 – 01.10.2018  | NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE

As window views are the most immediate medium of visual connection with one's neighbourhood, we surmised that the quality of this view would have an impact on the mental health and well-being of urban dwellers. Accordingly, we investigated how window views taken from different floors of a high-rise block with varying extents of green cover affected 29 healthy residents in an exploratory electroencephalography (EEG) experiment. The results showed that the amount of green cover within the view captured at different floor levels can cause an important interaction effect on the frontal alpha and temporal beta brain oscillations while participants view photographs. These results suggest that the brainwave patterns commonly associated with positive emotional states, motivation, and visual attention mechanisms may be increased by the extent of green cover within the view. This phenomenon seems more pronounced on the higher than lower floors. The observed findings at this stage cannot confirm major effects between floor level, green cover, and brainwaves, however, they emphasize the importance of considering the quality of window views in the planning and design of urban high-rise neighbourhoods. Having a green window view can potentially contribute to the mental health and well-being of urban dwellers.  (read more…)

EKLIPSE, Types and characteristics of urban green & blue spaces having an impact on human mental health and wellbeing

01.10.2017 – ongoing | EUROPEAN UNION

EKLIPSE in March 2017 called for expertise to assess and share existing cross-disciplinary knowledge following up a request initially put to EKLIPSE by the Expert Working Group Biodiversity & Health, 3rd National Plan on Health and Environment (PNSE3) – Ministry in charge of the Environment (MTES), France, aiming at providing recommendations for the “conservation, creation, design and management of natural spaces that would benefit urban citizens, by maintaining or enhancing their mental health and wellbeing”, as well as promoting systematic, interdisciplinary, and cross-cultural research. Knowledge assessment and synthesis Protocol and Systematic Review on what types and components of urban green/ blue space have actual benefit on mental health of urbanites.  (read more…)

Contemplative Values of Urban Parks and Gardens: Applying Neuroscience to Landscape Architecture

01.10.2010 – 05-02.2016| COIMBRA-PORTO | PORTUGAL

PhD research funded by Portuguese National Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT) explored how landscape design strategies of urban parks and gardens can influence brain activity pattern of the visitors. For the purpose of the experiment, we established the concept of a green outdoor space that combines high aesthetics and ecological values together with mental health benefits, and we coined it as a Contemplative Landscape. Read more about this research here...