The HABRI Foundation is calling for research proposals to investigate the health outcomes of pet ownership and/or animal-assisted activity or therapy, both for the people and the animals involved. To learn more, visit close

You are here: Home / Forum / General Discussion / HABRI Central Reviews / #319 - Book Review - "Your Brain on Nature" by Selhoub, E.M. and Logan, A.C.


Book Review - "Your Brain on Nature" by Selhoub, E.M. and Logan, A.C.

  1. Adriana Pisano Beaumont

    When invited to participate in a review of “Your Brain on Nature” by Eva M. Selhub and Alan C. Logan, I was unsure of what to expect. How much science would there be in the publication? The prospect of diving headlong into an author’s explanation of all of the intuitive reasons why exposure to nature is so important to our health without the scientific support to give it teeth, quite frankly, worried me a little. There have been so many watered-down ‘wellness’ books that paint a bleak picture of the price that must be paid in a nature-deficient society, but few of them actually reference the studies that can help to give their position traction.

    Not so with Selhub and Logan’s work. I was impressed by the care that was taken in making sure that every point that was made was substantiated by references to current and historical research. I was doubly impressed that an MD and ND could find the common ground through a collaborative approach, to really drive their point home. I believe it was this collaboration that created the breadth of topics that were tackled in their book. The approach was integrative, dealing with the anthropological, physiological, psychological and spiritual benefits derived from our evolutionary relationship with nature.

    One topic of particular interest was that dealing with the effects of the built environment on our wellbeing: how the lack of exposure to green space in our everyday urban lives erodes our ability to perform tasks at our full potential and how exposure to even a little ‘green’ in offices and hospitals confers a measurable improvement in cognition and health outcomes. Taking that one step further, they illuminated the positive effects that actually getting out in nature has on all of the things we do to keep ourselves healthy, including exercise.

    As a graduate student in Anthrozoology, I find myself most intrigued by the chapters dedicated to the positive effects of our relationships with non-human animals. Their historical use in physical and psychological rehabilitation, as therapeutic facilitators and in teaching compassion and empathy to children was thoroughly discussed and supported with science, including current neurophysiology research being undertaken which explores the role of oxytocin in the human-animal bond. It is apparent that a paradigm shift is occurring as hard, reductionist science is yielding some of its long-held territory to holistic, multi-disciplinary science in an effort to explain that which has eluded complete understanding by conventional means. Where conventional science tends to dichotomize observations into that which can be measured and that which cannot, it rejects the subjective in favour of the objective, and in so doing, dismisses a great deal of information about our natural world which we collect intuitively. I believe that the type of research discussed in ‘Your Brain on Nature’ will play a role in a more emotionally-based, intelligent view of the world around us and, combined with our advanced intellectual understanding, will help to shape our relationships in it.

    I am grateful for the opportunity to participate in this book review. It gives me great hope that we will see more research on this topic which, in turn, will have some effect on regulation, legislation and philosophy.

  2. Myrna Milani

    Another thought-provoking review of the book and the material it covers! Relative to what’s actually going on in the world re: human interactions with all other living beings, i.e., the natural world, I agree that the reductionist model by definition can’t result in a comprehensive understanding of the whole. Unless one is capable of making the connections between those little chunks of data to reveal the complete picture, it becomes another version of the old story about the three men describing the elephant based solely on the part of it they could feel.

Add Post

User photo

You must be logged in to comment.

Please keep comments polite and on topic. Offensive posts may be removed.