• Petra Vandecasteele

Attention Restoration Theory (ART)

Attention Restoration Theory (ART) suggests that nature has specific restorative effects on the prefrontal cortex-mediated executive attentional system, which can become depleted with overuse.

High levels of engagement with technology and multitasking place demands on executive attention to switch amongst tasks, maintain task goals, and inhibit irrelevant actions or cognitions.

ART suggests that interactions with nature are particularly effective in replenishing depleted attentional resources. Our modern society is filled with sudden events (sirens, horns, ringing phones, alarms, television, etc.) that hijack attention.

By contrast, natural environments are associated with a gentle, soft fascination, allowing the executive attentional system to replenish. In fact, early studies have found that interacting with nature (e.g., a wilderness hike) led to improvements in proof reading, control of Necker Cube pattern reversals, and performance on the backwards digit span task. Laboratory-based studies have also reported that viewing slides of nature improved sustained attention and the suppression of distracting information.

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Atchley, R.A., Strayer, D.L., Atchley, P., (2012). Creativity in the wild: Improving creative reasoning through immersion in natural settings. PLOS ONE, 7(12), 1-5.



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