This is the largest epidemiological study to report on the impact of natural-environment-type exposure on cognitive development, mental health and overall well-being during adolescence. The researchers observed that woodland exposure was associated with a beneficial contribution to cognitive development and a lower risk of emotional and behavioral difficulties during adolescence. However, the hypothetical mechanisms for why they experience these psychological benefits from woodland remain unknown. One possible explanation may be that audio–visual exposure through vegetation and animal abundance provides psychological benefits, of which both features are expected in higher abundance in wood-land. Although the results show that urban woodland is associated with adolescents’ cognitive development and mental health, the mechanistic pathway to explain this association remains unknown.
Source: Maes, M.J.A., Pirani, M., Booth, E.R. et al. Benefit of woodland and other natural environments for adolescents’ cognition and mental health. Nat Sustain (2021)