The urban brain: analysing outdoor physical activity with mobile EEG.
Aspinall Peter,Mavros Panagiotis,Coyne Richard,Roe Jenny
British journal of sports medicine
BACKGROUND:Researchers in environmental psychology, health studies and urban design are interested in the relationship between the environment, behaviour settings and emotions. In particular, happiness, or the presence of positive emotional mindsets, broadens an individual's thought-action repertoire with positive benefits to physical and intellectual activities, and to social and psychological resources. This occurs through play, exploration or similar activities. In addition, a body of restorative literature focuses on the potential benefits to emotional recovery from stress offered by green space and 'soft fascination'. However, access to the cortical correlates of emotional states of a person actively engaged within an environment has not been possible until recently. This study investigates the use of mobile electroencephalography (EEG) as a method to record and analyse the emotional experience of a group of walkers in three types of urban environment including a green space setting. METHODS:Using Emotiv EPOC, a low-cost mobile EEG recorder, participants took part in a 25 min walk through three different areas of Edinburgh. The areas (of approximately equal length) were labelled zone 1 (urban shopping street), zone 2 (path through green space) and zone 3 (street in a busy commercial district). The equipment provided continuous recordings from five channels, labelled excitement (short-term), frustration, engagement, long-term excitement (or arousal) and meditation. RESULTS:A new form of high-dimensional correlated component logistic regression analysis showed evidence of lower frustration, engagement and arousal, and higher meditation when moving into the green space zone; and higher engagement when moving out of it. CONCLUSIONS:Systematic differences in EEG recordings were found between three urban areas in line with restoration theory. This has implications for promoting urban green space as a mood-enhancing environment for walking or for other forms of physical or reflective activity.
The Implementation and Feasibility of the Supporting Physical Activity in the Childcare Environment (SPACE) Intervention: A Process Evaluation.
Driediger Molly,Vanderloo Leigh M,Burke Shauna M,Irwin Jennifer D,Gaston Anca,Timmons Brian W,Johnson Andrew M,Tucker Patricia
Health education & behavior : the official publication of the Society for Public Health Education
This study describes the process evaluation of the Supporting Physical Activity in the Childcare Environment (SPACE) intervention, consisting of educator physical activity training, provision of portable play equipment, and a modified outdoor schedule (i.e., 4 × 30-minute periods). Educators ( N = 49) from 11 childcare centers in London, Ontario, Canada, delivered the 8-week intervention to 200 preschoolers ( M = 3.38 years). Workshop attendance was documented while adherence to the outdoor schedule and number and timing of outdoor sessions offered (i.e., dose) were recorded in a daily log. Questionnaire-based program evaluation ( n = 41) and in-person group interviews ( n = 7) were completed postintervention to assess educator perspectives on the barriers and facilitators to implementation (i.e., context), the feasibility and perceived effectiveness of the intervention, educator and preschooler enjoyment, communication among researchers and childcare personnel, and the future implementation of the intervention. Descriptive statistics were calculated, and responses to open-ended questions were inductively coded. Educator workshop attendance was 96%, and 88% of classrooms adhered to the four daily outdoor periods. Educators delivered 90% of the scheduled outdoor sessions, and 87% of these met the 30-minute criteria. Educators expressed that the increase in number of transitions made the outdoor playtimes challenging to implement, yet rated the feasibility of the training and equipment as high. Educators perceived the intervention to be both enjoyable and effective at increasing preschoolers' physical activity. They indicated effective communication and revealed that they intended to continue to use their physical activity knowledge and to offer the play equipment once the intervention had concluded. These findings demonstrate that the SPACE intervention is viable in center-based childcare.
Mitigating Stress and Supporting Health in Deprived Urban Communities: The Importance of Green Space and the Social Environment.
Ward Thompson Catharine,Aspinall Peter,Roe Jenny,Robertson Lynette,Miller David
International journal of environmental research and public health
Environment-health research has shown significant relationships between the quantity of green space in deprived urban neighbourhoods and people's stress levels. The focus of this paper is the nature of access to green space (i.e., its quantity or use) necessary before any health benefit is found. It draws on a cross-sectional survey of 406 adults in four communities of high urban deprivation in Scotland, United Kingdom. Self-reported measures of stress and general health were primary outcomes; physical activity and social wellbeing were also measured. A comprehensive, objective measure of green space quantity around each participant's home was also used, alongside self-report measures of use of local green space. Correlated Component Regression identified the optimal predictors for primary outcome variables in the different communities surveyed. Social isolation and place belonging were the strongest predictors of stress in three out of four communities sampled, and of poor general health in the fourth, least healthy, community. The amount of green space in the neighbourhood, and in particular access to a garden or allotment, were significant predictors of stress. Physical activity, frequency of visits to green space in winter months, and views from the home were predictors of general health. The findings have implications for public health and for planning of green infrastructure, gardens and public open space in urban environments.
Forming attitudes via neural activity supporting affective episodic simulations.
Benoit Roland G,Paulus Philipp C,Schacter Daniel L
Humans have the adaptive capacity for imagining hypothetical episodes. Such episodic simulation is based on a neural network that includes the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC). This network draws on existing knowledge (e.g., of familiar people and places) to construct imaginary events (e.g., meeting with the person at that place). Here, we test the hypothesis that a simulation changes attitudes towards its constituent elements. In two experiments, we demonstrate how imagining meeting liked versus disliked people (unconditioned stimuli, UCS) at initially neutral places (conditioned stimuli, CS) changes the value of these places. We further provide evidence that the vmPFC codes for representations of those elements (i.e., of individual people and places). Critically, attitude changes induced by the liked UCS are based on a transfer of positive affective value between the representations (i.e., from the UCS to the CS). Thereby, we reveal how mere imaginings shape attitudes towards elements (i.e., places) from our real-life environment.
Capitalizing on Advances in Science to Reduce the Health Consequences of Early Childhood Adversity.
Shonkoff Jack P
Advances in biology are providing deeper insights into how early experiences are built into the body with lasting effects on learning, behavior, and health. Numerous evaluations of interventions for young children facing adversity have demonstrated multiple, positive effects but they have been highly variable and difficult to sustain or scale. New research on plasticity and critical periods in development, increasing understanding of how gene-environment interaction affects variation in stress susceptibility and resilience, and the emerging availability of measures of toxic stress effects that are sensitive to intervention provide much-needed fuel for science-informed innovation in the early childhood arena. This growing knowledge base suggests 4 shifts in thinking about policy and practice: (1) early experiences affect lifelong health, not just learning; (2) healthy brain development requires protection from toxic stress, not just enrichment; (3) achieving breakthrough outcomes for young children facing adversity requires supporting the adults who care for them to transform their own lives; and (4) more effective interventions are needed in the prenatal period and first 3 years after birth for the most disadvantaged children and families. The time has come to leverage 21st-century science to catalyze the design, testing, and scaling of more powerful approaches for reducing lifelong disease by mitigating the effects of early adversity.
Environmental influence in the brain, human welfare and mental health.
Tost Heike,Champagne Frances A,Meyer-Lindenberg Andreas
The developing human brain is shaped by environmental exposures--for better or worse. Many exposures relevant to mental health are genuinely social in nature or believed to have social subcomponents, even those related to more complex societal or area-level influences. The nature of how these social experiences are embedded into the environment may be crucial. Here we review select neuroscience evidence on the neural correlates of adverse and protective social exposures in their environmental context, focusing on human neuroimaging data and supporting cellular and molecular studies in laboratory animals. We also propose the inclusion of innovative methods in social neuroscience research that may provide new and ecologically more valid insight into the social-environmental risk architecture of the human brain.