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Title: Autonomic Nervous System Responses to Viewing Green and Built Settings: Differentiating Between Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Activity
Author(s): Magdalena M.H.E. van den Berg, Jolanda Maas, Rianne Muller, Anoek Braun, Wendy Kaandorp, Rene van Lien, Mireille N.M. van Poppel, Willem van Mechelen and Agnes E. van den Berg
Journal: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health
Year: 2015
Month: December
Day: 14
Volume: 12
Issue: 12
Pages: 15860-15874
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph121215026
File URL: vuams-pubs/Berg_2015.pdf
Keywords: stress buffering; stress recovery; natural environment; autonomic nervous system; respiratory sinus arrhythmia; pre-ejection period
Abstract: This laboratory study explored buffering and recovery effects of viewing urban green and built spaces on autonomic nervous system activity. Forty-six students viewed photos of green and built spaces immediately following, and preceding acute stress induction. Simultaneously recorded electrocardiogram and impedance cardiogram signal was used to derive respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA) and pre-ejection period (PEP), indicators of respectively parasympathetic and sympathetic activity. The findings provide support for greater recovery after viewing green scenes, as marked by a stronger increase in RSA as a marker of parasympathetic activity. There were no indications for greater recovery after viewing green scenes in PEP as a marker of sympathetic activity, and there were also no indications of greater buffering effects of green space in neither RSA nor PEP. Overall, our findings are consistent with a predominant role of the parasympathetic nervous system in restorative effects of viewing green space.

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