Cited Information

Since the beginning of human history, our affiliation with nature most likely improved the fitness of our ancestors (Wilson, 1984; 1993). According to Ulrich, an esteemed evolutionary psychologist, "certain advantages afforded by specific natural settings during our evolutionary history may have been so central to survival that the natural selection favored those individuals who acquired and retained certain positive or approach responses toward them" (Ulrich, 1993). Therefore our evolutionary history suggests that humans are genetically predisposed to "acquire and retain a liking, attention or approach responses to natural features and landscapes". (Gullone, 2000).

When humans are removed from the natural environment (where we evolved) and placed in a world regulated by technology, biophilia learning rules are not replaced by modern versions (Wilson 1993). Instead, they become weakened. In other words, because our brain hasn't been developed to deal with the machine world i.e. staying focused on things and doing tasks we were not originally wired for, our brain becomes tired.

Presently, many of us suffer from mental exhaustion on a daily basis due to our society's demand for prolonged "direct attention" (Kaplan, 1995). "Voluntary attention" also known as direct attention is effortful and is susceptible to fatigue, whereas "involuntary attention" requires no effort and is therefore resistant to fatigue (James, 1892). It might seem strange that staying focused, a crucial human efficiency element in the modern world, is so susceptible to fatigue (Kaplan, 1995). For an environment to be considered restorative, "it must have four components: (1) the ability to provide a feeling of being removed from the fatiguing environment (2) extent (a rich environment, (3) compatibility (feeling that it is easy and enjoyable), and (4) fascination (naturally holding your interest)" (Kaplan 1995). Experiments were conducted to evaluate whether restorative environments improve attention performance (Berto, 2005). A Sustained Attention to Response Test (SART) was selected and designed to mentally fatigue the participant. (Berto, 2005). Once fatigued, half of the participants were exposed to the 25 restorative photographs, which consisted of representing lakes, rivers, seas, hills, woods etc. (Berto, 2005). Once the photographs were reviewed, all participants took the SART again (Berto, 2005). The experiment concluded that only the participants exposed to the restorative natural environments improved their performance of the SART. Similarly, Berman, Jonides, and Kaplan tested ART (Attention Recovery Theory), by exploring the effects of nature and urban area interaction on cognitive performance with an experiment similar to Berto's SART. It was shown that Nature can be used as a tool to improve cognitive function (Berman 2008).

In addition to the cognitive benefits being surrounded by nature has, nature has a positive effect medically as well. Experiments were done on patients recovering from surgeries. Patients were grouped into two groups. One group was allowed access to a window view with trees, and the other a brick wall. Not surprisingly, Ulrich found that those patients with a natural window view recovered faster and their post-operative hospital stays were shorter than those in the brick wall group. (Gullone,2000). Furthermore, the group with the natural view through their window, were noted as being generally more happy and required less frequent administration of pain killers when compared to the group of patients left staring at the brick wall (Gullone, 2000). This is direct evidence supporting the need for patient exposure to nature. With this evidence, it is obvious that medical centers everywhere need to employ patient exposure to nature or pseudo-nature. In this way, hospitals would be lowering costs and increasing efficiency by reducing both postoperative recovery periods and frequency for administration of pain-relieving analgesics (Ulrich, 1984).

For cancer patients:

Similarly, in 2010, Lechtzin has suggested that exposure to natural views and sounds can help reduce the pain experienced by cancer patients with bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (Lechtzin et al, 2010). Correspondingly, Hathorn (2000) found that natural scenes (with greater depth) have been suitable for offing cancer patients point of equilibrium who have nausea when undergoing chemotherapy.