Living around green spaces may improve attention in children
Lifelong residential exposure to green spaces appears to substantially improve attention scores in children, according to a recent longitudinal study from Spain.
In the study, greenness was assessed using two satellite-based indices: the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), which considers all types of vegetation, and the vegetation continuous fields (VCF), which includes canopy cover only.
The researchers accessed two previous population-based birth cohorts, resulting in 888 and 978 children participating in the 4- or 5-year and 7-year follow-ups, respectively. Correspondingly, the Kiddie Continuous Performance Test and Attentional Network Task (ANT) were used to evaluate attention.
Children who were exposed to more surrounding residential greenness, as measured by the NDVI, during the first 4 to 5 years of life had lower omission errors when the researchers considered 100-m (adjusted mean ratio, 0.90; 95 percent CI, 0.85 to 0.96), 300-m (adjusted mean ratio, 0.88; 0.82 to 0.94) and 500-m (adjusted mean ratio, 0.88; 0.81 to 0.95) buffers.
Similarly, hit reaction time-standard errors (HRT-SE) were lower in those exposed to more greenness in 100-m (regression coefficient, -1.0; -2.0 to -0.1), 300-m (regression coefficient, -1.3; -2.5 to -0.2) and 500-m (regression coefficient, -1.3; -2.0 to -0.1) buffers. Commission errors, on the other hand, was not significantly affected by NDVI measurements.
While greater tree cover did generally improve attention, the effects were close to null.
Greater residential greenness in a 500-m buffer in the first 7 years of life was also associated with significantly improved HRT-SE scores. ANT Omission and commission scores showed no significant interactions with NDVI or VCF.