expanding brain

Follow the awakening in urban green spaces for health!

Our newest publication  XSection Journal features the process of evolution in perception of urban green spaces in terms of the health benefits they can deliver, through a popular “expanding brain meme.

Check out this short article and how to interpret the image here:

https://www.xsectionjournal.com/edition-8/2018/11/22/generations-of-urban-green-for-health-dr-agnieszka-olszewska-guizzo

river-urban

RIVER. A powerful landscape component restoring the human nervous system.

The more we know about the interactions between the landscape and human nervous system the better we can plan and design our living environments to serve our health.

With water being the essential component of any form of life, it is not surprising that it also influence our psychophysiological response, even if we are just passively exposed to it.  But what kind of water feature, and what do we have to do with this water to achieve this response? This is a question that scientists (NeuroLandscape included) have been trying to answer.

Let’s concentrate on the river. According to Jungian dream analysis, based on his theory of collective unconscious, the river is a symbol of death and rebirth (baptism), the flowing of time into eternity, transitional phases of the life cycle, and incarnations of deities. In Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo’s research river is one of the archetypal elements making the landscape “contemplative” and therefore therapeutical.

In the fMRI study from 2017 the team of Prof Chang, Chun-Yen (National Taiwan University) discovered that the passive exposure to the river views alters the brain functioning significantly, when compared to the urban views (see the image above).

The brain activity related to the “urban versus water ” contract was located in the left and right cuneus (Fig. 5).
The cuneus is primarily known for its involvement in basic visual processing. Furthermore, the right cingulate gyrus and left precuneus were also activated. These regions, which are part of Brodmann area 31 (BA31) and known as the dorsal
posterior cingulate cortex, are assumed to influence the focus of attention by adjusting whole-brain metastability (Leech & Sharp, 2014).   – Tang et.al 2017

It looks like there is nothing better for our nerves fatigues from all day in the office or and after several hours commuting through the urban jungle than walk along the riverfront immersing with our senses into the soothing flow of the waters.

 

 

Scientific references:

Olszewska, A. A., Marques, P. F., Ryan, R. L., & Barbosa, F. (2018). What makes a landscape contemplative?. Environment and Planning B: Urban Analytics and City Science45(1), 7-25.

Leech, R., & Sharp, D. J. (2014). The role of the posterior cingulate cortex in cognition and disease. Brain, 137(1), 12–32.

Tang, I. C., Tsai, Y. P., Lin, Y. J., Chen, J. H., Hsieh, C. H., Hung, S. H., … & Chang, C. Y. (2017). Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain region activity when viewing landscapes. Landscape and Urban Planning162, 137-144.

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A landscape architect’s experience of Chelsea Flower Show 2018 (PART_4)

These three very special gardens of the Chelseas Flower Show 2018, were featured this year on the NeuroLandscape blog:

  1. Feel good garden
  2. Morgan Stanley garden
  3. Lemon Tree Garden

They are a great source of information and inspiration on how to create healthy space through the landscape design, right selection of plants, materials, textures and shapes. This year, the dominant color palette were  definitely different shades of purple. This colour has a powerful impact not only on our mood but also behaviors. It calms and soothes, silences and regenerates the nervous system, enhances creativity and spirituality. It’s best for relaxation. Blues and greens create a calming atmosphere as well.

As a landscape architect, through  visiting this year’s Chelsea gardens I got inspired by some design strategies to create a space that has a positive effect on our well-being and mental health:

  • cool – toned colors of the plants and materials that have a calming and relaxing effect on people’s state of mind (whites, pinks, purples and blues),
  • variety of plants – next to ornamental plants we should remember about aromatic herbs, evergreen species, perennials and grasses, which provides variety of textures during whole year,
  • encouraging wildlife – observing birds can make us more happy and relaxed,
  • creating an interesting route and/or something beautiful to look at and focus on, which will help to forget about everyday stress and problems.

I am very glad that such prestigious show like Chelsea provides people a great opportunity to explore solutions to some of the actual most pressing not only environmental but also social and economic challenges. This year’s gardens are great, healthy places that make people feel very comfortable and at ease, offer spaces that increase social interaction, reduce stress, antisocial behavior and isolation. Luckily, the community awareness of how the public health can be enhanced by increasing access to green and blue space and improving the quality of our natural environment is a growing trend.

We are more and more involved in issues related to green areas in places where we live, ready to fight for better, greener cities to live in and enjoy in the harmony with nature. We look to the future with hope that it will be possible to prevent or slow down the progress of many diseases related to our mental health, looking beyond traditional treatments and medicines, through a range of activities, including gardening and spending time in a high quality, healthy and sustainable green spaces.

Landscape Architect, MLA

pichouzz

NeuroURBANISM, NeuroARCHITECTURE, NeuroLANDSCAPE!

Many aspects of our lives are far more interlinked than we normally imagine. Breakthroughs in neuroscience have made these links even more sensible than ever.

Read more at the practical design and construction site Houzz, how nouroarchitecture can look like in practice.

Photo credits: #Houzz

lemon tree garden

Mental health at the refugees camp @ Chelsea Flower Show 2018 (PART_3)

One of many Chelsea Flower Show Gardens that deserves special attention is The Lemon Tree Garden, which directly referred to the issue of mental health. Inspired by the resilience, originality and determination of refugees living in Domiz camp in Northern Iraq was designed with their involvement and highlights the unexpected beauty and power hidden in the refugee camps. Designer aimed to show how plants can improve people’s wellbeing.

The traditional Islamic style was kept by star shaped water feature, radiating water rills and elaborate metal and wood fretwork screens. Channels of water provide fresh, cooling atmosphere, representing at the same time the importance of reused grey water in the Iraq’s camps. Very simple materials that can be found in real camp such as concrete and steel, were used  . Food plants were placed in cans and recycled plastic bottles attached to a very interesting “innovation wall”.

The planting included the pomegranate trees, figs, single roses, alliums, dazzling blue flowered Anchusa, the impressive lemon tree as well as herbs used in Middle Eastern cooking. These fragrant herbs could have a great impact on mind and mood. All these are reminders of refugees homeland. Resting between them make us more relaxed and smiley.

People in camps create gardens and take care of them with aim to provide food but also to keep themselves in good mental and physical condition. Possibility of growing and taking care of plants, herbs, vegetables is a great chance to socialize what means it improves social functioning and emotional well-being. The garden with its amazing plants can be the gate to escape from cruel reality , bring the solace and positive energy.  The garden is a place that no matter where you are, you can relate to.

The Lemon Tree Trust supports and encourages the refugees to build camp gardens where they can grow food, create sense of beauty; seek and promote, a very important,  community well-being and identity.

Landscape Architect, MLA

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Neuro-urbanism & Neuro-landscape

A new term has officially been introduced in the scientific world – NEUROURBANISM.  It happened together with the  publication in Lancet in Psychiatry in March 2017 [link here].  City life has a lot to do with the psychiatric conditions , and this is the path we have been following in NeuroLandscape as well.

Our cities are growing and we know: City life influences our behavior, our emotions and our psychological well-being. The brain of an urban dweller reacts differently to social stress than that of a rural dweller. Whether this is also the reason for the aggregation of some stress sequelae in cities is a question that we want to answer with Neuro-Urbanism, a new discipline assembling neurologists, urban researchers and architects. 

-Dr Mazda Adli, Director of the Mood Disorders Research Group at the Charité Berlin and Head of the Fliedner Klinik Berlin

We are happy to get involved with the development of this new discipline in regard to urban nature, and the quality of urban environment. We are looking forward to join forces and connect with the interdisciplinary forum of Neurourbanism in Germany.

 

© SingEx | Photography by Lionel Lin

Window View and the Brain – study results

Most people in Asian biggest metropolitan areas live above the ground in multi-storey buildings. Here in Singapore residential blocks can reach up to 50+ floors! Developers try to fit as many housing units on small plots of lands without the consideration of what will be the view from the window. Well, maybe it is about the time for them to reflect on that.

This newest study from researchers of NeuroLandscape shows that the window views depending of the floor level and the amount of visible green can affect the brain activity in a positive or negative way.  This goes along with the scientists claim that the daily passive exposures to the living environment can have tremendous impact on our mental health.

Check out your window view!

Update! The paper from this study is already published online in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, click here to read!

chunyen

An exclusive interview with Professor Chang, Chun-Yen, NTU, UIUC

Happy to share the newest interview from one of the world’s leading experts in the area of evidence-based landscape design, Prof. Chang, Chun-Yen from National Taiwan University.
Professor Chang’s background is in landscape architecture, but his research interests have led him far beyond this discipline into examining the relationships between landscapes and human health in multidisciplinary teams. He is the Director of the “Laboratory of Healthy Landscape Healthy People East” at NTU, which is cooperating with a western group from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
 
We had the pleasure to speak to Professor Chang after his presentation at the IFLA World Congress 2018 in Singapore, and ask him questions about the newest research endeavors of his team, the demands and limitations of clinical studies on landscapes, the challenges of interdisciplinary research and future opportunities in the area.

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See what Contemplative Landscapes do to your brain!

Highly Contemplative Landscapes alter the brainwaves pattern of the people exposed to them!

More about the mechanisms of this phenomenon and how we discovered it can be found in this peer-reviewed paper published recently by Frontiers in Psychiatry, Public Mental Health section.

Full text already available for free here!

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00317/full

 

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Interview with Gayle Souter-Brown

Our first update of IFLA 2018 is an exclusive interview with Gayle Souter-Brown. Gayle is a Principle  of Greenstone Design UK & Ecological Victoria University of Wellington, landscape architect, writer and researcher.  This interview will share her experiences in the social, economic, and environmental benefits of developing green space for health and well being,

For more information on IFLA 2018, click here: http://neurolandscape.org/2018/07/13/ifla-world-congress-singapore-2018/