Human brain activation in response to visual stimulation with rural and urban scenery pictures: a functional magnetic resonance imaging study

Sci Total Environ. 2010 May 15;408(12):2600-7. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.02.025. Epub 2010 Mar 17.


Human brain activation was assessed in terms of eco-friendliness while viewing still photographs depicting rural and urban surrounding environments with the use of a functional magnetic resonance imaging technique. A total of 30 subjects who had both rural and urban life experiences participated in this study. In order to explore the common and differential activation maps yielded by viewing two extreme types of scenery, random effect group analysis was performed with the use of one-sample and two-sample t-tests. Activation of the anterior cingulate gyrus, globus pallidus, putamen and head of the caudate nucleus was dominant during rural scenery viewing, whereas activation of the hippocampus, parahippocamus and amygdala was dominant during urban scenery viewing (p<0.01). These findings allow better characterization of neural activation, suggesting an inherent preference towards nature-friendly living. Such a theoretical acquisition may have an important practical impact in view of potential applications for bio-housing and the development of environmental psychology-related areas.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Cities
  • Female
  • Higher Nervous Activity
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Photic Stimulation*
  • Rural Population
  • Young Adult