Can houseplants make your mind sharper?

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This research studied possible benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in a controlled laboratory experiment. Participants were 34 students randomly assigned to one of two conditions: an office setting with four indoor plants, both flowering and foliage, or the same setting without plants. Attention capacity was assessed three times, i.e. immediately after entering the laboratory, after performing a demanding cognitive task, and after a five-minute break. Attention capacity was measured using a reading span test, a dual processing task known to tap the central executive function of attention. Participants in the plant condition improved their performance from time one to two, whereas this was not the case in the no-plant condition. Neither group improved performance from time two to three. The results are discussed in the context of Attention Restoration Theory and alternative explanations.

Research highlights

► Indoor plants in an office can prevent fatigue during attention demanding work.

► Attention restoration does not depend on a defined “five-minute” break.

► Benefits of plants can occur in offices with window view to nature

Source: “Benefits of indoor plants on attention capacity in an office setting” from Journal of Environmental Psychology, Volume 31, Issue 1, March 2011, Pages 99-105

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