Green Surroundings Help Kids' Brain Development

City experts confirm what a Spain study has found that the more sylvan the school, the better the learning

Published: 14th July 2015 01:44 AM  |   Last Updated: 14th July 2015 01:44 AM   |  A+A-

QUEEN'S ROAD: Green surroundings help children’s minds understand better, according to a recent survey.

An article in the June 30 issue of the US-based science journal Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences says, “Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduction in exposure to air pollution.”

The study, by Payam Dadvand and others, examined the effect of green spaces at the primary school level. The focus group comprised 2,593 children between second and fourth grades (seven to 10 years) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012-2013).

kids.jpgChanges in the development of working memory and inattentiveness were measured using four repeated computerised cognitive tests for each outcome. The researchers checked the presence of green spaces through satellite data. Multi-level modelling showed the associations between green spaces and cognitive development.

There was an enhanced progress in working memory and a greater reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenery within and surrounding school limits, home, commuting route and school.

They also added a parameter of air pollution in the form of carbon and found that greenery at school and cognitive development were greatly associated.

A psychologist working with a school in Bengaluru, who did not wish to be named for this story, said, “I find that restless and aggressive children benefit from a class in the open green spaces. They can focus easily when it is peaceful.”

In her view, “Special children find it difficult to deal with a lot of stimulators such as light, noise and people at the same time.”

She says such children experience a cognitive overload and their brains cannot process so much information. “Calmer green spaces with less stimulators make it easy for them to understand things, just as an uncluttered desk helps them not to be distracted,” she explained. She described having greenery as a little strategy to make a child feel secure and peaceful.

At a recent workshop organised by the Centre for infrastructure, Sustainable Transportation and Urban Planning (CiSTUP) at Indian Institute of Science, its Chairman Chandra Kishen J M spoke about the effects of air pollution. “There is a need to improve the quality of the air we breathe and for more trees, parks and open spaces or we will suffer,” he said.

Prof N H Ravindranath of the Centre for Sustainable Technologies and Centre for Ecological Sciences, IISc, said, “Researchers working on climate change suggest urban trees as a solution for global warming, for they reduce requirements for air conditioning and bring down carbon dioxide emissions.”

Another scientist, Harini Nagendra at Azim Premji University, recently showed that tree-lined roads are cooler than roads without trees.


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