The Environmental Neuroscience Lab at the University of Chicago

The Environmental Neuroscience Lab (ENL) is interested in how the physical environment affects the brain and behavior. Some of the findings from the ENL include showing that brief interactions with natural environments (such as a walk in a park) can improve memory and attention by 20%. In addition, we have shown that more efficient brain networks are linked to enhanced self-control throughout the lifespan and have examined global brain network connectivity as it relates to depression and breast cancer. We are continuing to advance this work by uncovering the physical low-level features of nature (such as color and spatial properties) that lead to these improvements as well as other manipulations that may make the brain more efficient and also alter functional connectivity patterns as they relate to diseased states. With a better understanding and quantification of the relationships between the brain and the environment, we hope that our research will influence the designing of physical environments in ways that will optimize human mental health, physical health, and overall well-being.