Study: When a child is surrounded by trees, his brain develops better

Study: When a child is surrounded by trees, his brain develops better
Study: When a child is surrounded by trees, his brain develops better

It is said that as a child grows and develops, neurons in his brain branch out like the branches of trees. Being surrounded by this type of vegetation can actually contribute to this process.

A multi-year study that followed 3,569 London schoolchildren aged 9 to 15 found that children who spent more time near woodlands exhibited higher thinking abilities and mental health as adolescents.

On the other hand, another natural environment - meadows, lakes, rivers, apparently, had the same effect on her.

“These results help us understand the importance of different types of natural environments as important protective factors for cognitive development and mental health in adolescents, and suggest that not all types of natural environments are equally beneficial to health,” the authors note.

This is not the first time that researchers have found a curious link between the presence of trees and a person's state of mind.

In the United States and Denmark, nationwide epidemiological studies of children have shown that green spaces in residential areas are associated with a lower risk of mental health problems later in life.

In the UK, similar studies have shown that children living in greener urban areas have better spatial memory.

Why this is so is a mystery. The human brain is known to be shaped largely by the environment, but it is still unclear why green spaces - especially trees - have such a powerful effect on the human brain at a young age.

Some studies do suggest that there is a link between the presence of green spaces and structural changes in the brain, including an increase in white and gray matter, as well as positive changes in the amygdala, which help control emotions. Thus, these changes may be the cause of some of the cognitive and mental manifestations we observe.

But apparently trees can do what other types of vegetation cannot. As in the new British study, other scientists also conclude that trees, not grass, are associated with improved mental development and mental health.

Perhaps it has something to do with the fractal pattern of tree branches. Even in childhood, studies have shown, a person unconsciously manifests an innate attraction to these forms, and perhaps this partly explains their calming effect on our brain and a healing effect on some neural pathways.

However, as with a number of previous studies, this London study has some limitations. Just over half of the participants in the study grew up in families in which their parents worked as managers or well-paid professionals.

An article published in 2019 argues that although children who grow up surrounded by greenery perform better on cognitive tests than their peers, it is not necessary to thank trees for doing so. Socio-economic factors also play an important role in the development of a child, so we can combine both.

"Children raised in greener areas show better cognitive abilities in general," the authors conclude, "But this is probably due to socio-economic factors such as family and the area in which they live."

The green spaces around us can influence our mental and mental mood, providing shelter from heat, city noise and even harmful emissions. There are many factors to consider here.

It’s too early to say what makes children smarter by being around trees and that these effects last throughout their lives, but given how much more urban our landscapes are becoming every year, it’s worth finding out if we can use trees to improve life of people all over the world.

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