Brain scans outdoors: how to collect reliable EEG and FNIRS data in-situ?
Rigorous neuroscience research would question collecting the neuroscience data outdoors, due to too many confounding factors occurring and researchers not being able to control them all. In the sensory exposure research, each participant has to be exposed to the same set of stimuli, which is very difficult if not impossible in an outdoor setting. For example, small environmental nuances such as certain type of cloud covering the sun would change the amount of light reaching the eye of the participant , which can dramatically change the alpha power produced by the brain.
For this sake we should collect the exposure data in a controlled-lab environment, controlling for each factor such as brightness, temperature, etc. Also, we should use the same set of stimuli, that can be recorded in a form of photo, video or more immersive - VR.
However, environmental researchers, landscape architects and ecologists will all agree that the exposure to nature in the lab has nothing to do with the one outdoors in a real setting. Lab-based experiment lacks the so-called "ecological validity" - meaning it cannot be fully compared with the real experience. As it is essential to advance the knowledge in the area of real exposure to nature as opposed to natural images, we took a challenge to collect a reliable data outdoors, while controlling for most important environmental factors (temperature, humidity, brightness and noise), and making sure for each participant the experience is as similar as possible.
We recorded the video of in-situ data collection from the "Effects of Landscapes on the Brain" project in Singapore, where we show how the EEG and fNIRS data can be collected outside. We have published the preliminary findings from that research in a journal.
Let us know if you have comments or questions about that procedure, also share and support pushing this discipline forward!
President and Co-founder of NeuroLandscape. She is a Ph.D. in landscape architecture and urban ecology, who has explored the relationship between the different features of the natural and built environment’s influence on human health and wellbeing. In her research she has successfully incorporated neuroscience tools to investigate the changes in brainwave oscillation in participants exposed to different types of designed landscape. She has introduced and operationalized the term contemplative landscape and proposed a quantitative assessment scale to distinguish landscape views according to which are most beneficial for mental health in terms of passive exposure. She has developed several research projects worldwide and established international research networks across multiple universities. She is an originator of the idea for the VR_HEATHER project, which builds upon her research and is also in line with the statutory goals of NeuroLandscape.
The video from the webinar is already available on! The webinar organized by the International School Grounds Alliance and the Children &Nature Network on how school grounds can be designed and used to support took place on June 23rd 2020, and featured research and design insights on how to design mentally healthy outdoor spaces for children.
Everyone interested in design for children will find a lot of inspiration in this video, in other words it's a must-see! We are very proud and grateful that NeuroLandscape could be a part of this insightful panel!
The program featured:
an introduction to the ISGA activity by Kerry Logan;
showcasing international best-practice examples, by Kathrin Schmiele;
research and design lessons from neuroscience by Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo;
strategies for the design of schoolyards for students Claire Latané.
The current global outbreak of #COVID19 makes the problem of our living space and mental health more relevant than ever. Read more in our recent blog post. This is why we need new solutions and new approaches.
Please complete this 5-min, anonymous survey. If possible, share it with your family and friends, with special attention to elderly people, who (that’s our guess) could benefit from our solutions the most.