Attention Restoration Theory: Revitalizing young minds via green campus landscapes

Marc Berman, a University of Chicago psychologist, is working on the concept of “attention-restoration theory,” how it’s grounded in the effects of green, natural space on the mind and the implications for that in how we design our surrounding environment.

The basic idea is simple: exposure to certain types of natural environments can restore our our ability to pay attention and reduce our mental fatigue.

Green space essentially makes our brains more resilient and better able to deal with difficult tasks, such as doing academic work or taking care of a difficult child.

One of the pioneers in that work is a University of Illinois professor of landscape architecture, William Sullivan, and he has a new study out, led by graduate student Dongying Li, on one possible practical application: school landscaping.

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