What can improve your memory by 20% in a matter of minutes?

More great stuff from Jeremy Dean’s excellent Psyblog. Nature walks — or even looking at pictures of nature — improve cognitive performance:

The results showed that people’s performance on the test improved by almost 20% after wandering amongst the trees. By comparison those subjected to a busy street did not reliably improve on the test.

In the second study participants weren’t even allowed to leave the lab but instead some stared at pictures of natural scenes while others looked at urban environments. The improvements weren’t quite as impressive as the first study, but, once again, the trees and fields beat the roads and lampposts.

These results replicated a previous study by Berto (2005) who found that just viewing pictures of natural scenes had a restorative effect on cognitive function. People’s performance was soon restored by picture of trees, fields and hills, but not by streets, industrial units or even complex geometric patterns.

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