Review of "Your Brain on Nature"
Selhub, EM & Logan, AC (2012) Your Brain on Nature: The Science of Nature’s Influence on Your Health, Happiness, and Vitality
July 30, 2013
I found this book’s premise, that modern technology has removed us from the curative influence of nature to our own peril, to be intuitively correct. I must add that I am of an older generation which did not grow up with any of today’s technology, that I do not own a television set, and that at a young age I was profoundly influenced by Thoreau’s Walden Pond. I am blessed by easy access to the beautiful natural environments of Northern New England. I live in the woods, that environment so heralded by the authors as central to our well-being. Animals both domestic and wild surround me and enrich my life.
The authors give an extensive review of the research supporting their view that exposure to the natural environment (even if limited to views of nature through windows and the presence of indoor plants) positively enhances our cognition, motivation, and productivity. Additionally, the authors purport that over reliance on and use of modern technology has negatively impacted our well-being, has increased the incidence of psychiatric disorders, and has alienated us from the very planet that has sustained us.
My concern, particularly with the first half of the book, is that the authors report on research findings but do not give important information on who conducted the research, the sample number, or whether the research was replicated. Imagine my surprise when I could not located information about the research anywhere in the book, only to find that I must go on line to a web site to access this information! I must be “wired” in order to read and review this book thoughtfully! Another concern was that the authors implied a causal link between our modern reliance on technology and the increase in psychiatric disorders. These factures may be somewhat correlated, but the increased use of “truckloads of Prozac” (authors’ words) is multi determined including such factors as broadening definitions of what is considered as a mental disorder, direct advertisement to consumers by pharmaceutical companies, increased awareness, and improved medications with more tolerable side effects.
Over all this book is interesting, easy to read, and encourages us to not abandon or ignore our millennium deep connections to the natural world around us. We should be mindful of the positive impacts of accessing nature in how we design our offices, schools, and hospitals. Most imperative is the authors’ warning that decreased immersion in nature potentially decreases our concern for the earth as we face issues and consequences of climate change.