Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Metro Phoenix & Northern Arizona

Natural Thinking: Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance

Nature Outdoors Cognitive

KRIACHKO OLEKSII/Shutterstock.com

More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e., the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology.

The studies used the backward digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.