Exploration of Neural Correlates of Restorative Environment Exposure through Functional Magnetic Resonance
Up until now, neural mechanisms associated with psychological restoration process related to brain activity have not been identified. We explored the neural correlates of restorative environment exposure with functional magnetic resonance imaging while participants viewed photographs with low or high restorative potential (LRP and HRP, respectively). Baseline measurements of self-reported stress before viewing these two categories of environments and post-test measurements were considered as behavioural evidence of psychological restoration. Activation of the middle frontal gyrus, middle and inferior temporal gyrus, insula, inferior parietal lobe, and cuneus was dominant during the view of HRP environments, whereas activation of the superior frontal gyrus, precuneus, parahippocampal gyrus, and posterior cingulate was dominant during LRP viewing (p < 0.05). Brain area activations related to involuntary attention were found during the view of HRP environments and brain areas related to directed attention were more active during the view of LRP environments. The results are consistent with the attention restoration theory and suggest that the perception of restorative qualities and a building-integrated vegetation could be considered for architects in order to provide cognitive resources necessary for adequate human functioning.