Environmental Neuroscience

Our project is interested in how the physical environment affects the individual. We assume that the external environment has a major impact on brain plasticity as well as on behavioural change. The influence of the environment is oftentimes neglected, a phenomenon that has been termed the „fundamental attribution error“, describing that individuals tend to ignore the impact of situational/environmental factors when evaluating the behaviour of people. In order to fill this gap, the discipline of environmental psychology has evolved.

Within this field it has been demonstrated that brief interactions with natural environments (such as a walk in a forest) can improve cognition as well as mental and physical health. Our goal is to unravel the brain-related mechanisms of these effects. Furthermore, our research activity will comprise research on the effects of extreme environments (e.g. Antarctica, space flight) on the brain but mainly concentrate on the effects of urban living.

By providing a better understanding and quantification of the relationship between the environment and the brain, we hope to influence the designing of physical environments in ways that will optimize well-being and cognitive functioning as well as human mental and physical health.

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