As we all know neurons are the fundamental unit of the nervous system in the brain. During the growth of a child, these neurons are said to develop like branches in trees. And a recent study published in Nature Sustainability has shown that the development of neurons might get supported by being around such an atmosphere.
3,568 students of ages between 9-15years in London, were studied and it has been found that students living near woodlands or simple trees for much time showed improved cognitive performance and mental health during their respective adolescence period. While other natural resources like rivers, mountains have not much impact.
“Such results help us to understand the impact of natural environment type resources on cognitive development and mental health of adolescents and also tells that not all natural resources have their impact on health benefits”.
Few findings showed a connection between green spaces and structural changes in the brain. It also includes an increase in white and gray matter and positive benefits in the amygdala (which helps to control emotion). Such changes can be assumed for some of the cognitive and mental health effects we are seeing.
Earlier findings also showed a link between trees and the human mind. Nationwide epidemiological studies in countries like the US and Denmark showed a decrease in the risk of mental health issues in those children having trees in their residential areas. Similarly in the UK also studies found that kids living in green cities have better spatial working memory.
A good environment is known to shape the human body and especially the brain better but it is still not known why only greenery and mainly trees have much impact on young minds.
Several studies were done on this issue earlier but the recent one in London has limitations as more than half of the participants were part of that family having a managerial or professional occupation.
A paper from 2019 showed that children who live near green space score more on cognitive tests than their opponents. This can not make trees wholly responsible for this because socioeconomic factors are also major factors in child development and we may mix them both.
Researchers from 2019 also concluded,
“Children who grew in greener neighborhoods have the better overall cognitive ability but the association mainly accepts family and neighborhood socioeconomic factors for observed results”.
Trees can affect our mind by providing an escape from the heat, noise of the city, pollution. They have a unique impact on human minds. Also, it is observed that only trees and not grass are linked to improving mental conditions.
Probably the fractal patterns in tree branches are responsible. Studies showed that humans have an innate appreciation for these shapes and these can be part of something that makes our mind calm and trigger some of the pathways in our brain.
There is no proper answer to this question of whether trees help in mind growth but the speed by which peoples around the world started living in urban areas it is clear that trees can make life better as having many benefits like providing fresh air and their different and impactful roles in natural processes.