Skip to main content

Lack of green space affects our cognitive development

Children living in urban greener neighborhoods may have better spatial working memory, according to a British Journal of Educational Psychology study. Spatial working memory is responsible for recording information about one's environment and spatial orientation, and it is strongly inter-related with attentional control.

Although I grew up in the 1950-60s in a council housing estate in London, it was at that time beautifully maintained, and we were fortunate as children to be surrounded by green space.

We walked in the local park and not far away was Wimbledon Common.  We were, in that sense at least, rich.  

Does lack of green space affect cognitive ability?

Biologists often say that we humans are hunter-gatherers living in a concrete jungle.  But how does this jungle affect our cognitive development, and our awareness of it?

A new study of 4758 11-year-olds in England, shows that living in urban areas with limited green space is related to poorer spacial working memory.  This is not simply a reflection of poverty.  It is so in both deprived and non-deprived neighbourhoods.

The findings suggest a positive role of green space in cognitive functioning.  Lead author, Dr Elrini Flouri, of University College London, tells us

Spatial working memory is an important cognitive ability that is strongly related with academic achievement in children, particularly mathematics performance.

If the association between neighbourhood green space and children’s spatial working memory is causal, then these findings could be used to inform decisions about both education and urban planning.


What is spatial working memory?

Working memory is the limited‐capacity store we use for holding information over a short period of time, and our mental use of what we put in this store.

Spatial working memory is the retention and processing of visuospatial information and is strongly interrelated with attentional control.



Subscribe to The Thin End






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

The secret life of Giant Pandas

Giant pandas, Ailuropoda melanoleuca , have usually been regarded as solitary creatures, coming together only to mate; but recent studies have begun to reveal a secret social life for these enigmatic bears.  GPS tracking shows they cross each others path more often than previously thought, and spend time together.  What we don't know is what they are doing when together.  Photo by  Sid Balachandran  on  Unsplash For such large mammals, pandas have relatively small home ranges. Perhaps this is no surprise. Pandas feed almost exclusively on bamboo. The only real threat to pandas has come from humans. No wonder then that the panda is the symbol of the WWF.  Pandas communicate with one another through vocalization and scent marking. They spray urine, claw tree trunks and rub against objects to mark their paths, yet they do not appear to be territorial as individuals.  Pandas are 99% vegetarian, but, oddly, their digestive system is more typical of a carnivore. For the 1% of their diet

Work Capability Assessments cause suffering for the mentally ill

People suffering from mental health problems are often the most vulnerable when seeking help. Mental health can have a major impact on work, housing, relationships and finances. The Work Capability Assessments (WCA) thus present a particular challenge to those suffering mental illness.  The mentally ill also are often the least able to present their case. Staff involved in assessments lack sufficient expertise or training to understand mental health issues and how they affect capability. Because of  concerns that Work Capability Assessments will have a particularly detrimental effect on the mentally ill,  an  e-petition  on the government web site calls on the Department of Work and Pensions to exclude people with complex mental health problems such as paranoid schizophrenia and personality disorders. Problems with the WCA  have been highlighted in general by the fact that up to 78% of 'fit to work' decisions are  being overturned on appeal. It is all to the good that they