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  • Author or Editor: Seon-Ok Kim x
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This study was conducted to compare the concentration and emotional condition of elementary school students performing an intensive assignment in the presence or absence of foliage plants, using electroencephalography (EEG) and a modified semantic differential method (SDM). In a crossover experimental design, 30 elementary students performed a 3-min intensive age-appropriate arithmetic assignment in the presence or absence of foliage plants. Continuous EEG monitoring in the frontal lobe was performed using a wireless dry EEG device. Immediately thereafter, subjective evaluation of emotions was performed using the SDM. The concentration of the male elementary students was significantly higher when the assignment was performed in the presence vs. absence of plants as evidenced by the increase in the ratio of spectral edge frequency of 50 and a decrease in the relative theta power spectrum in the right frontal lobe. The SDM results revealed a significant psychological relaxation when the assignment was performed in the presence of plants. Therefore, the presence of foliage plants in the space where the elementary students performed the intensive assignment led to positive effects on concentration and emotional condition.

Open Access

This study aimed to investigate elementary school students’ needs and preferences regarding urban agriculture. In total, 1268 students in grades 4 to 6 at four elementary schools in Seoul, South Korea, participated in the study. A 21-item questionnaire was developed and distributed in each school by trained researchers for 3 weeks in Oct. 2017. More than 73.7% of the students reported having an awareness of and need for urban agriculture, and 86.8% (N = 1048) indicated their participation intention. Students noted needing urban agriculture for scientific inquiry and recommended including a learning activity in urban agriculture (35.4%, N = 400) for psychological stability and stress reduction (20.9%, N = 236), and for leisure and hobby purposes (16.2%, N = 183). Students reported participating in urban agriculture activities in indoor and outdoor spaces (33.8%, N = 423) for more than 30 minutes and less than 60 minutes (42.0%, N = 525) twice per week (40.2%, N = 501) with friends (72.9%, N = 818). Preferred urban agriculture indoor activities were planting plants (21.8%, N = 822), arranging flowers (20.9%, N = 788), and making craftwork using plants (18.9%, N = 714). Harvesting (20.8%, N = 790), watering (15.1%, N = 570), and planting transplants (13.1%, N = 493) were preferred outdoor activities. Other preferred activities included playing with livestock (22.4%, N = 884), cooking with the harvested crops (21.3%, N = 805), and feeding livestock (17.2%, N = 650). The female students demonstrated greater perception, experience, awareness of the necessity, and willingness to participate in urban agriculture compared with male students (P = 0.01). The lower the grade, the more students perceived the necessity of urban agriculture (P < 0.001). The results of this study can provide basic data for the practical development of urban agriculture programs for elementary school students.

Free access

The aim of this study was to compare the physiological and psychological effects in the elderly during horticultural and nonhorticultural activities as leisure activities. A total of 58 participants aged 65 or older (29 men and 29 women; average age, 74.0 ± 4.7) whose cognitive function was within the normal range were included in this study. Participants performed four horticultural and four nonhorticultural activities for 2 min, respectively. The study had a cross-over experimental design. Electroencephalography was performed during all the activities. Subjective evaluation of emotions was performed using the Profile of Mood States immediately after each activity. The collected statistical data were analyzed using Duncan’s test as a post-analysis of variance test to verify the differences in the results of electroencephalography and the Profile of Mood States according to the different activities. In the results of the electroencephalography, the relative beta, gamma, low-beta, and ratio of sensorimotor rhythm to theta indices indicate that the degree of brain activity in the prefrontal lobe was high during activities such as washing leaves, transplanting plants, and reading news. The results of the Profile of Mood States showed that during activities such as arranging flowers, transplanting, and washing leaves, the total mood disorder score was lowered, indicating a positive effect on the mood of the participants. This study shows that activities such as washing leaves, transplanting, and reading news have a positive effect on the cognitive function of elderly people by increasing brain activity.

Open Access

This study aimed to compare the brain activity and emotional states of elementary school students during horticultural and nonhorticultural activities. A total of 30 participants with a mean age of 11.4 ± 1.3 years were included. This experiment was conducted at Konkuk University campus in Korea. Participants performed horticultural activities such as harvesting, planting, sowing seeds, and mixing soil. Nonhorticultural activities included playing with a ball, solving math problems, watching animation videos, folding paper, and reading a book. The study had a crossover experimental design. Brain activity of the prefrontal lobes was measured by electroencephalography during each activity for 3 minutes. On completion of each activity, participants answered a subjective emotion questionnaire using the semantic differential method (SDM). Results showed that relative theta (RT) power spectrum was significantly lower in both prefrontal lobes of participants when engaged in harvesting and reading a book. The relative mid beta (RMB) power spectrum was significantly higher in both prefrontal lobes when participants engaged in harvesting and playing with a ball. The ratio of the RMB power spectrum to the RT power spectrum reflects concentration. This ratio increased during harvesting activity, indicating that children’s concentration also increased. The sensorimotor rhythm (SMR) from mid beta to theta (RSMT), another indicator of concentration, was significantly higher in the right prefrontal lobe during harvesting than during other activities. Furthermore, SDM results showed that the participants felt more natural and relaxed when performing horticultural activities than nonhorticultural activities. Horticultural activities may improve brain activity and psychological relaxation in children. Harvesting activity was most effective for improving children’s concentration compared with nonhorticultural activities.

Open Access

Mycobacterium vaccae is a species of nonpathogenic bacterium that lives naturally in soil. This study compared the physiological effects at a metabolomic level with autonomic nervous system responses in adults during soil-mixing activities, based on the presence or absence of M. vaccae in the soil. Twenty-nine adult participants performed soil-mixing activities for 5 minutes using sterilized soil with culture media and M. vaccae, respectively. Blood samples were drawn twice from each participant after each activity. Electroencephalograms and electrocardiograms were measured during the activity. Serum metabolites underwent metabolite profiling by gas chromatography, followed by multivariate analyses. Soil-emitted volatile organic compounds were identified using the solid-phase microextraction and gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy, followed by multivariate analyses. The volatile compound analysis revealed that the metabolites related to esters and sulfur-containing compounds are greater in soil with M. vaccae. Serum metabolomics revealed that the treatment group (soil inoculated by M. vaccae) possesses relatively higher levels of inter-alia organic and amino acids compared with the control group (soil mixed with culture media). In the treatment group, the electroencephalogram and electrocardiogram revealed that alpha band activity of the occipital lobe increases, while heart rate decreases. This study concludes that M. vaccae soil contact can affect human metabolic and autonomic reactions.

Open Access

We aimed to determine the energy expenditure, oxygen uptake, and exercise intensity of 10 care farming activities performed by adults. The study had a crossover experimental design. Participants performed 10 care farming activities for 5 minutes, including four plant- and three animal-mediated activities, and three other activities. Each participant wore a portable telemetric calorimeter during the activities, and oxygen uptake, heart rate, and exercise intensity were measured. Twenty-one adults (aged 31.5 ± 10.2 years) participated in our study. Energy expenditure, oxygen uptake, and exercise intensity differed significantly for each activity. The 10 care farming activities were regarded as light- to moderate-intensity activities. The exercise intensity, energy expenditure, and oxygen uptake for organizing a garden plot were significantly higher than those for other care farming activities. Cooking using harvests, interacting with dogs, and feeding rabbits had the lowest exercise intensity, energy expenditure, and oxygen uptake. Other activities, such as transplanting plants, harvesting, creating art, maintaining a garden, walking with a dog, and cleaning the farm, had moderate exercise intensity, energy expenditure, and oxygen uptake. Energy expenditure, oxygen uptake, and exercise intensity data could be useful when developing a care farming program suitable for the physical condition of participants in care farming interventions.

Open Access

Green care activities are associated with lower intensity and a lower risk of injury than agricultural activities aimed at producing agricultural and livestock products; however, the risk of health problems cannot be completely ruled out. To implement green care interventions to improve physical health, it is essential to identify the green care activity levels and biomechanical characteristics of the movements that are appropriate for each subject’s physical functions and goals. Thus, this study was conducted to determine the muscle activation of the upper and lower limbs during 19 green care farming activities. We used electromyography signals, which are biomedical signals that measure the action potentials generated in the muscles and nervous system when the muscles contract, to evaluate the muscle activation. Twenty adults (aged 29.9 ± 9.6 years) participated in this study. Participants performed 19 green care farming activities, including horticultural activity, animal-mediated, and off-farming activities. The participants performed each activity three times. The electromyography data were assessed using surface electromyography during activities to measure muscle activation. As a result, 16 upper and lower limb muscles were activated during the green care farming activities, which showed significantly different muscle activation by care farming activity. As a result of the comparison of muscle activity according to each muscle, many of the muscles of the upper and lower limbs were most activated during organizing a garden plot, transplanting plants, and collecting natural objects. In conclusion, the electromyography data obtained during this study suggest that green care farming interventions may be effective for training specific muscles of the upper and lower limbs.

Open Access