r/science Oct 05 '22 Bravo Grande! 1 Tree Hug 1 Helpful 1 Wholesome 1 All-Seeing Upvote 1 Wholesome Seal of Approval 1

A systematic review finds nature exposure has a significant restorative effect in children and adolescents, helping restore cognitive, social and behavioral resources. Psychology

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0272494422001293
21.7k Upvotes

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u/8to24 Oct 06 '22

Nature exposure isn't defined in the link. Does a daily 20 minute walk in a park count?

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u/-newlife Oct 06 '22

It’s something that I used to overlook but questions like yours are what I’ve come to look for with these papers. It’s something that I would never consider before but as I’ve started reading more (understanding some too) having things spelled out exactly has become a desire of mine.

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u/yobroyobro PhD | Dairy Science Oct 06 '22

Having a PhD and coming to this subreddit makes you realize no one reads (ok very few people read) the materials and methods of papers. And with social science stuff it is always about how the variable is defined.

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u/[deleted] Oct 06 '22

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 06 '22

I’m always baffled as to how published scientific works fail to address this vital part of communication

Construct validity was like the most important thing from psych undergrad to PhD level, entire personal development seminars are focused solely on ensuring that your proposed construct is measurable and able to be quantified.

Semi-related but my personal pet peeve as a psychologist who does ASD and ADHD evaluations is the “Neurodiverse” construct, which has become a behemoth of controversy as to who qualifies and who doesn’t; a huge number of people claim to be a part of that group and gatekeep others from it, but it consistently fails to be operationally defined in any way that actually meaningfully creates a group which is “divergent” and one that is “typical”

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u/LobotomyxGirl Oct 06 '22

I'm seeing this exact breakdown in conversations on ADHD support threads as you have described. I do use the term "ND" because it's just easier and vague enough for my comfort than saying I have a learning/executive disfunction disorder. I don't understand the gatekeeping as its a self-given title used in service of coping. I'm trying to be more aware of influences of Pop Psychology and this one hurt after the veil was lifted. (Also, thank you for the work you do in helping people like me)

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22

I can definitely understand why some people feel more comfortable using the term rather than specifying a diagnosis or explaining functionality limitations, and I’d never seek to prevent someone from doing so, but I do wish there was more discussion about the importance of properly defining the term.

Unfortunately, however beneficent the intention of the term, the creation of any ‘in-group’ automatically creates an ‘out-group’

The original term only referred to Autism diagnoses; which of course is problematic by itself, because a plurality of people with autism are non-verbal, have an intellectual disability or lower IQ, which excludes them from any labelling process which involves voluntary self-identification.

The gate keeping began almost immediately as ‘high-functioning’ members of the Autistic community claimed that ADHD was not sufficient for the term, while many activists began using it to include all developmental disorders, and even mood or personality disorders.

Some autism communities in the UK even published guidelines recommending that ‘neurodiverse’ is a word that ‘belongs’ to the autism community.

Ultimately the few scientific endeavours which have attempted to operationalise the definition have been unable to reach any consensus on a definition which includes all the people who claim the label which also enables identification of a ‘neurotypical’ person.

For instance:

There is no such standard for the human brain. Search as you might, there is no brain that has been pickled in a jar in the basement of the Smithsonian or the National Institute of Health or elsewhere in the world that represents the standard to which all other brains must be compared. Given that this is the case, how do we decide whether any individual human brain or mind is abnormal or normal?

Much of the public discourse, even on subs like r/adhdmeme, for example, frequently engage disparagingly about ‘neurotypicals’, bemoaning in generalisations about their actions or thoughts.

The disastrous folly in those discussions of course is that it inevitably devolves into arguments about the hypothetical neurotypical person, their privilege, their inability to understand the neurodiverse.

This becomes particularly egregious when a behaviour is labeled as being part of the neurodiverse group, but it is actually a universal behaviour which most people experience, but may not talk about.

There’s a song this reminds me of called “Urban Spaceman” about a purely perfect person, an ideal representative of society, who it is revealed does not exist.

If we consider that neurodiversity represents the differences between functioning in brains, then there can be no neurotypical people at all.

Edit: I appreciate your comment, and my apologies for what turned out to be quite a long one of my own, hyperfixation is a blessing and a curse

Edit2:

The moderators removed all the comments around this one, removing all capacity for discussion, wonderful

This was in response to a comment asking about the rate of non-verbal and low functioning ASD:

That is correct, the inflation is primarily due to the sub-clinical or mild (high-functioning is rather an outdated term but I understand it’s too common to be rid of it) cases presenting far more commonly for diagnosis.

There have been scandals in Australia where parents have been told to “come back with a better diagnosis” by their school because ASD gets the school $65,000 extra funding but ADHD doesn’t, or shopping around between services pushing to get a diagnosis for a child even where there is not actually a loss of function; there are even doctors who have admitted that they did not properly do the due diligence in ASD diagnosis because they wanted to help the child access government support services; and there are similar issues of access to diagnosis everywhere, especially when diagnosis of severe autism can be much harder.

In specialist autism services like the one I consult with, there is a far more representative sample of the severe disfunction which is the typical case of ASD

The tragedy really is that they have literally no voice to advocate for them, and much of the autism community who are made up of adults with near-normal functioning exclude and dismiss the parents of the significantly disabled children

Especially with applied behavioural therapy which still gets demonised by activists, but every psychologist who works with ASD children knows the value of it.

I’ve seen so many children through that process and hearing a previously non-verbal child talk to you and thank you is the most amazing thing, I’ve never not cried in those last few sessions.

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u/WoodTrophy Oct 06 '22

I agree with most of wish you’ve said and you’ve made many great points. However, I think it is important to acknowledge the evidence of the change in brain structure, for example, of young adults that were diagnosed with ADHD at a young age. As someone with ADHD co-occurring with a neurological condition among other diagnoses, I can provide many examples of how different I am from “neurotypical” people although I’m not a big fan of the label and how it’s being used by some people. People love to say things like “well, everyone forgets things and many people have trouble doing things, that’s normal”, but unfortunately that perspective is solely based on ignorance. “Normal” people normally do not go through these things I deal with at the quantity and intensity I and many others do. For me, that is what it means to be neurodivergent (not assigned solely by a diagnoses).

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 06 '22

I’m glad that you’ve commented with your experience, as it provides a good example as to the complexity of the discussion and why rigidity of thinking leads to gatekeeping

So, we should start with your claim:

I can provide many examples of how different I am from “neurotypical” people

Scientifically, no, you can’t.

There is no scientific consensus on what constitutes a ‘neurotypical’ brain in which you could find a comparison, and attempts to define neurotypical in a meaningful way have failed at every hurdle.

But let’s say you’re going to try to find one, how should we start?

We see significant brain structure changes in adults diagnosed with severe personality disorders, so we would have to avoid them.

There are white and grey matter brain alterations evident in those who go on to be diagnosed with MDD, so we’d have to make sure we didn’t choose any of those people.

So maybe you want to just find someone who has never been diagnosed with anything from the DSM?

Well, hold on there, because what if they have significant brain variations but haven’t been diagnosed yet and so they haven’t found them? And what about those who self-identify with a diagnosis but haven’t been medically diagnosed? I get the feeling you don’t want to exclude them either.

Maybe you want to just focus on people who are functioning and, as you say, “not going through the things” that you are going through.

So, when we look at all these supposedly functioning people, we have a large number who actually do have a diagnosis which involves a loss of function, but they have received sufficient treatment to allow them to mask symptoms and regain functioning while not eliminating their diagnosis necessarily.

So maybe you want to find a neurotypical person by giving everyone on earth a series of psychometric tests to determine if they experience function deficits.

How high on the functioning test would you consider someone to need to score to be considered neurotypical?

Would a sub-clinical but below average score be enough to exclude someone from the neurodiverse group?

What about those at the highest level of functioning, those with IQs above 130, gifted, savant, extreme empaths; are they not neurodiverse? They are certainly testing significantly outside the bell curve, so it would be illogical to claim that those people are neurotypical.

So we are left with a group of people with average IQ, average functioning, with zero diagnosed DSM disorders, who we are also certain will not develop any disorder in the future, and who do not self identify with any disorders. Those are the neurotypical people right?

Well, you’d need to exclude those who have experienced significant heartbreak, which can also cause permanent changes in the amygda, people who have experienced concussion or TBE of course, anyone who have given birth as that can cause a decrease in grey matter in the social cognition area of the brain, and then you’d need to make sure that you didn’t include anyone who had severe COVID which can also cause widespread brain structure changes.

But after all that you’re bound to find someone neurotypical right?

The point I’m finally getting to is that the variations in connectivity and structure within those who describe themselves as neurodiverse are just as large as the variations between them and those who do not.

By demanding that you be allowed to claim that a person is neurotypical based on your observations you are making harmful generalisations about their functioning and experiences about which you are ignorant.

There is some irony in the ferver of people self-diagnosed with ADHD claiming the neurodiverse label, when the Autism community have made it extremely clear that from their perspective you are not entitled to it.

I hope that you consider this opinion in the well meaning and good faith spirit that I have attempted to imbibe it with.

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u/WoodTrophy Oct 07 '22

I think your primary point is that there is no exact classification of what it means to be neurodivergent, but why do you need it to be so precise? Many, many scientific labels in the field of psychiatry and psychology are not precise and are somewhat ambiguous. Should we get rid of those too? There isn’t a single diagnoses listed in the DSM that doesn’t struggle with a threshold of what is “normal” and what is abnormal. One of the points of neurodiversity is to describe how one’s experience and interaction with the environment are different for a neurodiverse person. Scientifically, yes, someone who is neurodiverse would have different strengths and weaknesses from someone who is not. Think memory, picturing three dimensional objects, over-stimulation, and so on. It’s not meant to be a medical term, because there is no such thing as a “normal” brain. There is, however, such thing as an abnormal brain.

Another example is that neurodiverse people are generally better at working with systematic concepts. There are a lot of these distinctions.

Probably the best point I can make is the incredibly dramatic amount of people that are incorrectly diagnosed with different things, like bipolar and ADHD, because every single one of these things are incredibly ambiguous.

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u/asmallcoal Oct 06 '22

Is it true that most autistics are nonverbal or “have a severe intellectual disability”? I’m seeing ranges from 20 to 30%, and I imagine that statistic is inflated due to those of us who would be labeled as “high functioning” being less likely to be diagnosed than those with more obvious support needs.

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u/lucid-blue Oct 06 '22

Well spoken friend. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this.

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u/attackemu Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

Thanks for this thorough reply.

One thing that jumps out to me is what you/an article mentioned around there being no "typical" brain against which all can be compared.

Which, in my own graduate training and since, has certainly held true...the more you learn, the more granularly you see all these constructs that once seemed so "solid" as a Thing.

BUT! What interests me here is around brain scans. I remember that for some type of brain scanning (fMRI I believe), scientists do have to "normalize" the data that is collected by the machine, to help algorithmically clarify what you would "expect" to see in a certain spot, and compare that to what's there.

So basically, my understanding is that in order to do brain imaging studies that relate to certain kinds of analyses, the subject's brain is somewhat statistically 'massaged' into a default geometry.

Which has wild implications if still true, to me at least. There is no normal, but we do normalize data. 👀

Maybe methods have advanced since I last was steeped in this work ~6 years ago, but there was some story about the "normalized" brain being from a woman who had alcoholism. Can anyone help corroborate or correct that memory?

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 07 '22

This is an excellent point, and in fact the calculations done in order to evaluate fMRI data have often been very controversial specifically because of this ‘normalisation’.

The reality is that the variability of structure even within a healthy, homogeneous group is such that some people will have different numbers of sulci and gyri in a particular location, which makes the normalisation process highly variable across datasets.

There is also a phenomenon which can be referred to as the p-hacking of fMRI, where part of the normalisation calculation is done before the temporal feature of the time series;

This paper does a good job explaining why this leads to lower reliability.

A good example of this is the controversy over the “Havana Syndrome victims” where a particular scientist claimed that he found white matter changes in their brains, but was proven later to be exaggerating normal variations and used improper statistical techniques.

But ultimately yes, whenever a brain scan study is talking about increased structural changes, it’s in comparison to the ‘normalised’ data, which that very study creates, so there really is no normal in that sense either.

If you were to normalise data from every brain in the world, you would find that no brain would match the normalised data and every brain would be abnormal

Some helpful links for more information:

https://www.brainvoyager.com/bv/doc/UsersGuide/StatisticalAnalysis/TimeCourseNormalization.html

https://neuroscientificallychallenged.com/posts/know-your-brain-fusiform-face-area

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u/MissaLayla Oct 06 '22

I made it all the way down here and I’ve just gotta say: I love you. I share many of your frustrations, and I appreciate how well you’ve articulated them. Thank you for your thoughtful commentary.

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 06 '22

Thank you for that, I appreciate that people find value even all the way down here.

I’ve only just replied to one other person as my comments are getting extremely long as we get into the nuance of the debate, hopefully some more scientists appear too

It’s sometimes difficult to understand how different these conversations can be, among my scientist peers there is little disagreement about the lack of construct validity of the term neurodiverse, but on much of social media even mentioning the topic often begins a flame war that is hard to anticipate

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u/LobotomyxGirl Oct 06 '22

No need to apologize! It was very helpful. I think the hardest thing to pin (at least for myself) is how do we use a term that seemingly was created as a way to identify with an experience of hardship and used to cope; in an objective way that is in line with the clinical diagnosis? What happens if the diagnosis is changed once new data is acquired? What is the delineation of the hardware of my brain and the software of adverse childhood experiences? Is someone with a personality disorder from trauma neurodivergent?

As you stated, there seem to be too many variants with no "solid" example to compare it to. It doesn't make sense to use a binary term. I've noticed that when I do use neurotypical I typically use it to refer to the broader systems of academics and my experiences with work. While I agree that the systems of power were not set up in a way that someone like me can easily perform- that doesn't mean that it's a group in power pitted against us trying to make our lives miserable. And yet, again as you stated, it is being used that way.

I think some self reflection of when catharsis relief overlaps into being problematic is in order. I suffered immensely (originally assessed at age 7- was "diagnosed" as "learning deficient" and it was treated as a character flaw. Oh the 90's!) until I finally sought out the assessment. I imagine people who are rigid in its use had it harder. Ultimately though, I dont think it serves the ADHD or Autistic community to close off. I really appreciate you shedding more light on this incredibly intricate situation. Maybe we just need to do what the article says: go the fuck outside and touch some fucking grass for a bit.

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u/nowyouseemenowyoudo2 Oct 07 '22

how do we use a term that seemingly was created as a way to identify with an experience of hardship and used to cope; in an objective way that is in line with the clinical diagnosis?

An excellent question, and unfortunately I doubt they can be reconciled at all.

The scientific structures which exist to create objective diagnostic criteria are permanently at odds with the social dynamics under which the label and community was created.

The scientific community demand a definition which is operationalised, replicable, and consistent, but the social community want an inclusive label that validates their experiences despite significant variation.

I’ve seen many times, even in a person who replied to me in this thread, that people who use the neruodivergent label are doing so as part of a specific rejection of a diagnostic criteria, they mention that they ‘feel’ neurodivergent despite admitting that they do not have a formal diagnosis.

There is an increasing trend with ADHD and ASD in particular for individuals to profess a self-identification with a diagnosis rather than an actual medical diagnosis after an evaluation, usually because they feel that they share behaviours or traits with that community, despite a heavy selection bias being present.

It’s very different to something like the LGBTIQ+ community where the scope of the definitions mean that any person who feels that they want to belong to that group can genuinely profess membership to it, the term queer especially being so nebulous that there are few people it can’t apply to.

There appears to be a desperation for inclusivity in order to propagate a feeling of belonging, which is perfectly fine for some groups, but becomes very fraught when taking about actual neurological conditions.

If the scientific community were to actually define the term, I have a feeling that the social community would reject it in the same way they reject applied behavioural analysis for ASD.

It’s particularly interesting that so many in the social communities think of the scientists and academics as being neurotypical, there are just as many divergences within that speciality as outside of it. Many people get into psychology specifically because they want to better understand their own dysfunction and overcome it.

There is definitely an element of people wanting to “reclaim” their identity from their diagnosis by instead using a social term like neurodivergent which cannot be controlled

I do see it as mildly problematic when that reclamation leads to people being told that they shouldn’t get treatment, which I’ve seen a lot in the ASD community. Particularly harmful that the higher functioning and sub-clinical autistic individuals have the loudest voices there, and the non-verbal and intellectually disabled autistic individuals don’t get a say.

Reminds me of the meme of X-Men with storm telling rouge that she doesn’t need a cure because they aren’t broken; one controls the weather and the other the mutant who kills everything she touches, it’s super condescending.

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u/A_Nameless_Soul Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

They didn't need to define it that thoroughly in that this is a systematic review. It integrates and assesses the results of other studies rather than involving its own experiment.

All that they needed to do was define their exact search terms for screening for relevant articles. Here, in the table, they put "Intervention" instead of "nature" as the category, but defined the search term of that as "exposure to nature OR contact with nature OR green OR nature interactions OR park OR forest OR garden."

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u/MotherHolle MA | Criminal Justice | MS | Psychology Oct 06 '22

They actually examined a lot of measures, extracted from 30 articles on this topic spanning multiple study designs (intervention, longitudinal, cross-sectional, etc.). These included different types of nature exposure (nature-based education, exercise in a natural environment, school greenspaces, forest activities, etc.) in spans of time like 15 weeks, 20 minutes, 7 weeks, 4 months, 8 weeks, 10 years, 30 minutes, 4 hours, 13 years, etc. I have access since I work at a university. I can't really post the entirety of the measures here because the table is quite long.

Essentially any study published is going to have variables defined for its central hypothesis.

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u/[deleted] Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22

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u/symes Oct 06 '22

I haven't read the paper. But is there a difference between taking time out and going somewhere different, and taking time out and going into nature? Did they only look at people living in urban neighbour hoods, or did they also consider people living in rural neighbourhoods? It might be a similar effect is observed if you take a child living on a farm into the big city.

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u/Hexorg PhD | Computer Engineering | Computer Security Oct 06 '22

Would be interesting to apply the same methodology to adults. Is working from forest more productive/less deteriorating to us?

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u/ellipsisslipsin Oct 06 '22

There's actually quite a bit of research in this area. A few books that cover some of it are Barefoot and Balanced and There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather.

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u/LifeInCarrots Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

Just FYI for anyone looking:

Its titled “Balanced and Barefoot” * :)

I believe its by Angela j hanscom

And the second book you mentioned “There's No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom's Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids”

Is by Linda Åkeson McGurk

Thanks for the great suggestions!

being that these suggestions are specifically kid (parenting) related, I would also add this one, for a more general resource (though works for parents too):

The Earth Prescription: Discover the Healing Power of Nature with Grounding Practices for Every Season by Laura Koniver MD

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u/LittleMew22 Oct 06 '22

Add vitamin n and last child in the woods to that list

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u/MissaLayla Oct 06 '22

Oooo adding these to my reading list. Thanks!

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u/Cedow Oct 06 '22

Yes. As little as 10 minutes is enough to be beneficial.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02942/full

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u/steavoh Oct 06 '22

I think this matters a lot.

American suburbs have a lot of manicured lawns but except for some regions of the country where home lots and yards tend to be massive and unfenced(New England, Carolinas, etc), this is hardly a natural or appealing environment if you are an older kid IMO. In Texas it's pretty austere. You've got some mowed grass, and a tree here and there, and then a fence you can't see over and more houses. The newest suburbs in DFW and Austin pile the houses on top of each other because land values are so high now.

I think parks need to be a big more, and I also speculate that living a in denser city but one that has lots of parks might paradoxically offer better access and exposure to nature than low density suburb that has a lot of random green spaces that are too cut up by fences and property boundaries and roads to really count.

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u/yukon-flower Oct 06 '22

Great points! How is a kid supposed to play on an expanse of vacant, sterile lawn anyway?

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u/IggySorcha Oct 06 '22

For the record when looking through studies, in this field that is called Nearby Nature and when you're talking about deeply wild places like a big forest that's Nature of Nature.

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u/CthuluTheGrand Oct 06 '22

Curious if indoor plants have any effect. Like say you go absolutely ham on indoor-plants will it have a similar effect? Or is some kind of combination of natural sunlight, wind, exposure to microorganisms found in the forest along with whatever the plants contribute with that gives the effect?

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u/Cedow Oct 06 '22

Yes, having indoor plants around can also produce similar effects.

Psychological effects tend to be stronger the more you feel like the environment helps you to 'get away', however, which is why being in a completely different environment like a forest tends to be more beneficial.

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u/mtarascio Oct 06 '22

They've been prescribing going to the forest in Japan for decades or more.

You need to be careful because there's a subset that tries to promote forest therapy as some miracle that is sending out chemicals to make you younger etc.

Truth is, it's good exposure, great exercise and excellent oxygen.

Useful for being generally healthy in life.

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u/Devenu Oct 06 '22

They've been prescribing going to the forest in Japan for decades or more.

Just want to append to this and append that there's an actual term for it: 森林浴(shinrinyoku)or "forest bathing"

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u/wannabe414 Oct 06 '22

I wanted to append to your append and append that many cultures have recommendations to go outside. Hopefully my append to your append wasn't too appendish.

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u/boo_lion Oct 06 '22

for decades or more

yes, i suppose millennia are more than decades

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u/Bulzeeb Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 07 '22

If we're gonna be pedantic, OP used the word "prescribing" which typically has medical connotations, and forest bathing as a medical practice goes back to the 80s

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u/Chest3 Oct 06 '22

Exposure to nature could be considered a piece to the puzzle of mental health.

How large that piece is will vary between people.

Its a large piece for some with a good mindset (think 10-piece puzzles) vs someone who is struggling with many parts of life (think 500 piece puzzle).

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u/Threedawg Oct 06 '22

Trees have also been proven to make humans feel better.

It was our safe spot for tens of thousands of years, so it makes sense.

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u/sans--soleil Oct 05 '22

Highlights

• The restorative effect of exposure to different types of nature was considered.

• Nature exposure has a significant restorative effect in children and adolescents.

• Nature exposure helps restore cognitive, social and behavioural resources.

• Emotional resources and perceived well-being are not always restored in nature.

Abstract

One of the most documented effects of exposure to nature is physical and psychological restoration. Restoration refers to the recovery or strengthening of adaptive resources (e.g., attentional capabilities, positive emotions, etc.) that are being spent in meeting the demands of everyday life.

The restorative process has been widely studied in adults, but less is known about the restorative effects that exposure to nature has for children and adolescents. To fill this gap in the literature, we conducted a systematic review aiming at systematically summarizing the accumulated evidence about the restorative effects of nature exposure on children and adolescents and reporting the main findings in terms of the restoration of (1) cognitive, (2) emotional, (3) social or (4) behavioural resources.

To conduct the study, we followed the PRISMA procedure. Databases were extracted from Web of Science, PUBMED, and SCOPUS. Studies were selected if (a) they included non-adult participants, (b) they included empirical results at least for one of the four selected variables, (c) the study was published in English and (d) the study had been peer-reviewed. According to these criteria, 30 studies were finally selected. Selected studies were categorized in terms of sample size, duration of the intervention (if applicable), and quality of the study (following the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute assessment tool).

Results show that exposure to nature has significant restorative effects, but the effects differ across the selected variables. Due to methodological limitations, such as a lack of measurement standardization, and the scarcity of experimental and longitudinal studies, caution should be exercised when interpreting the available results. Suggestions for future lines of research in this area are provided.

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u/bloopie1192 Oct 06 '22

Does this also apply to adults?

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u/Cedow Oct 06 '22

Yes, there is far more data on this for adults. The fact that it is targeting children and adolescents is the novel part

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u/kaowirigirkesldl Oct 06 '22

Couple good books about this:

  1. Richard Louv’s Last Child In The Woods

And 2. Steven Rinella’s Outdoor Kids In An Outside World

Both worth the read

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u/IggySorcha Oct 06 '22

Also Richard Louv's Vitamin N!

And not about the need to spend time in nature but how to help teach people about nature and conservation, I must always make a plug for David Sobel 's Beyond Ecophobia. Too often we teach fire and brimstone style about saving the planet and that doesn't really encourage people to want to get outside much less help. Quite the opposite.

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u/kaowirigirkesldl Oct 06 '22

I’ll check out beyond ecophobia

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u/Avagantamos101 Oct 06 '22

Also, Restorative Cities: Urban Design for Mental Health and Wellbeing by Jenny Roe and Layla McCay if you want to see how this can be incorporated into urban environments

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u/elderrage Oct 06 '22

"In wilderness is the the preservation of humanity."

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u/systemCF Oct 06 '22

In more ways than just the one. The wilderness not only grounds us and keeps us closer to being human, it's also the only reason we have had the opportunity to live and evolve as a species. Without the wilderness and the resources it provides us with to live (oxygen, food and water, etc.) we will not be able to go on, which is why climate change is so horrific. It's not the planet that will pay the price, it's us. All of us.

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u/Protl Oct 06 '22

Is there evidence that nature is actually causally restorative, or could it be that some negative affects of urban/suburban environments 'wear off' once a person is in a more neutral or less harmful environment?

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u/Cedow Oct 06 '22

There is evidence for both of those things. Also, restorative environments aren't limited to just nature, certain built environments can also be restorative.

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u/DangerGoatDangergoat Oct 06 '22

What kind of built environments, and restorative in what way? Comparable?

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u/Cedow Oct 06 '22

There's a fair body of work on restorative urban spaces, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to summarise exactly what makes them restorative.

There are also mediating factors such as personal connectedness to either nature or urban environments.

There is also a body of work on so-called "favourite places" which can also be restorative. That could be somewhere like your favourite coffee shop, or your home, as well as places in nature.

As a general rule, though, when looking at average populations, natural spaces tend to be more restorative than urban ones.

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u/theduckopera Oct 06 '22

I wonder would this still work for people who have a high degree of nature exposure in their daily lives already? Would we at some point habituate?

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u/spambearpig Oct 06 '22

Funny how living in nature has become an exception and not the rule. This is all upside down. Better to say

“Living in modern society is bad for child development”

That would be hitting the nail on the head.

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u/_CMDR_ Oct 06 '22

I wonder if it has something to do with the complexity of detail and sense inputs. Nature is just far more complex than anything on a screen and having to process that information is probably good for the brain.

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u/cienfuegos__ Oct 06 '22

Hi! I'm a scientist and this is exactly what I study :)

Many different aspects of "nature interactions" contribute to the overall restorative effects we gain from exposure to natural scenes.

One part of this relates to how our visual system processes the structure and spatial information in nature. In your comment you mention nature being more complex than other stimuli, but natural statistics are actually in an 'intermediate' range that our brain and visual system effortlessly process.

Check out 'processing fluency' theory and visual tuning (sensitivity) to natural fractal dimension/intermediate fractals if interested in some reading on the topic.

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u/onacloverifalive MD|Bariatric Surgeon Oct 06 '22

The term “soft stimulation” has been used in regards to what you are mentioning- passive exposure to pleasant complexity of structure and motion.

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u/Darkhorseman81 Oct 06 '22 edited Oct 06 '22

Monoterpenes are positive regulators of gaba receptors. Wouldn't surprise me if plants use them to attract animals for fertilizer from animal waste.

Also considered medicine by certain insects; they seek out plant producers, particularly in leaf and flower, like a human visiting a GP, while others repel insects.

It's also how plants create land based cloud formations. These chemicals, when breathed out by trees, act as cloud condensation nuclei.

Nature is weird.

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u/PestyNomad Oct 06 '22

And what exactly does "nature exposure" mean exactly? Can a person on a hiking trail in a major metropolitan area expect the same effects as someone else miles away from civilization? It's too ethereal and meaningless to use such ambiguous language.

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u/IggySorcha Oct 06 '22

To answer your question in short as a professional in this field: yes. All too often people forget that the tree on a corner in a city or the pigeon is still nature. That said Nearby Nature like that and Nature of Nature like a wooded hiking trail both provide different amounts of relief and benefit, And this is one reason why it is so important for cities to remember that we don't just need pruned parks, but some more unkempt and wild spaces too!

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