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Living in the Vicinity of Woods Improves Cognitive Capabilities, Suggest Scientists

According to a new study published in Nature Sustainability, City children who have daily exposure to woodland have better Cognitive development and a lower risk of emotional and behavioral problems.Researchers studied 3,568 adolescents aged 9 to 15 at 31 schools across London over four years.They examine the associations between natural environments and Cognitive development, mental health, and overall well-being. Using vegetation satellite data, researchers calculated adolescents’ daily exposure to green space, like woods, meadows and parks, and blue space, including rivers, lakes and the sea, within 164 feet, 328 feet, 820 feet and 1,640 feet of their home and school.

Higher daily exposure to woodland was associated with higher scores for Cognitive development measured through a series of memory-based tasks and a 17% lower risk of emotional and behavioral problems two years later, researchers said, adding that they adjusted for other variables, such as age, ethnic background, gender, parental occupation, type of school and air pollution.

Exposure to green space was associated with a beneficial contribution to young people’s Cognitive development. The same associations were not seen with exposure to blue space though the sample of children studied generally had low access to it.

Lead author Mikaël Maes said that, while the team had established an association between woodlands and better Cognitive development and mental health, there is no causal link between the two something that could be studied in the future.Maes said in an email that one possible explanation for the link between woodland, cognition and mental health could be that audio-visual exposure through vegetation and animal abundance -which are more common in woodland provides psychological benefits.

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