The Effects of Nature on the Amygdala

"Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier"

Indeed, the researchers found a relationship between place of residence and brain health: those city dwellers living close to a forest were more likely to show indications of a physiologically healthy amygdala structure und were therefore presumably better able to cope with stress. This effect remained stable when differences in educational qualifications and income levels were controlled for. However, it was not possible to find an association between the examined brain regions and urban green, water, or wasteland. With these data, it is not possible to distinguish whether living close to a forest really has positive effects on the amygdala or whether people with a healthier amygdala might be more likely to select residential areas close to a forest. Based on present knowledge, however, the researchers regard the first explanation as more probable. Further longitudinal studies are necessary to accumulate evidence.

Living near a forest keeps your amygdala healthier

The implication of the title is definitely misleading given that the study is correlational. Unfortunately, it is common to imply causation because it makes for a stronger story. But, given the amazing number of variables that could be affecting healthy physiology when living near nature, the paper says very little.

True… though I would be surprised if there isn’t some causation involved. (Stress negatively affects the amygdala, and nature appears to reduce stress.)

Sure, anything is possible. I haven’t read the original article, but this write-up is no doubt claiming more then the team researchers would claim. From the write-up it’s not possible to tell what it means to have a " healthy structure", how the age of the participants might have affected that, or what structural changes might actually mean (this would be a problem with the original study), if anything. Besides the fact that it could all just be a placebo effect. For me, there are just too many unknowns in write-ups like this. There are also all kinds of other things that reduce stress and that don’t need urban planning, such as puppies.