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Studies show that city dwellers who live near forests are healthier because of low activity levels in their amygdala / əˈmɪg də lə /.
The amygdala is the part of the brain responsible for stress processing. People who live in the metropolis are more likely to have higher activity levels in this part of the brain because of different factors like noise, pollution, and overcrowding, thus resulting in poor mental health.
Lead researcher Simon Kuhn explains that brain plasticity supports the idea that the environment plays a part in shaping brain structure and function, as it has been proven before that people who live close to nature were healthier physically and mentally. This encouraged Simon Kuhn and his team to conduct a study on the effects of the environment on city dwellers’ health.
People who lived in cities that were next to different environments such as forests, urban green patches, and wastelands underwent memory and reasoning tests. Their amygdala were subjected to magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as well.
The results showed that the city dwellers who live close to forests have healthier amygdala structure and are therefore more resilient to stress than the other participants.
Similarly, other studies also suggest that living near the sea brings the same effects as living in or near the countryside. The sea can bring about a meditative state, which in turn activates the prefrontal cortex, or the area of the brain responsible for emotional processing and self-reflection.