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  • Author or Editor: Shih-Han Hung x
  • HortScience x
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Nature and health researchers have often suggested that nature induces better psychological and physical health responses than urban environments, especially with healthy ecosystems in nature. However, research that has empirically documented the daily benefits of physical and psychological health in rural landscapes is scarce. This study explores how rural landscapes could provide better health benefits than the built environment in daily life. The research involved on-site data collection with a set of psychological indicators (e.g., restorativeness, preference, emotion) and physical indicators (e.g., brain waves, heart rate) to compare the rural and the built environments. A total of 169 subjects took part in the study. We analyzed health indicators through analysis of variance to show the difference in water landscapes in rural areas relative to the built environment after the participants experienced the environments. The results showed that subjects could release stress and felt a greater sense of restorativeness, pleasure, and arousal in rural areas than in the built environment. Subjects preferred the rural landscape more than the built environment. To conclude, this study explains the rural landscape and its health-related benefits in Taiwan.

Open Access

Research has confirmed that there are physical and mental benefits associated with performing horticultural activities, such as being in contact with soil and viewing plants. In addition, due to the rapidly increasing volume of affective neuroscience research, it is now possible to understand emotional processing in the brain through neuroimaging. The present study was conducted to explore subjects’ emotional responses after participating in horticultural activities, with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and the Profile of Mood States used for physiological and psychological measurements, respectively. First, the subjects’ baseline brain activation levels were determined before any engagement in horticultural activities. A week later, the subjects participated in a 5-week horticultural activity. fMRI was used to detect physiological changes during the different stages of the activity—namely, preparation and sowing, fertilizing and weeding, and harvesting. The findings show that the functional connectivity of the brain regions was activated, including the emotional prosody network. Hence, this study provides evidence that gardening can stimulate functional connectivity, activation of positive emotions, and mindfulness in the brain. The findings provide a neuroscientific understanding of the types of horticultural activities that increase positive emotions, meditation, creativity, attention, and relaxation and reduce depression.

Open Access