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.
Seon-Ok Kim, Yun-Ah Oh, and Sin-Ae Park
Seon-Ok Kim, Ji-Eun Jeong, Yun-Ah Oh, Ha-Ram Kim, and Sin-Ae Park
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.