Date of this Version
Atri Schuller, A. (2018). Nature Sounds and Performance on Attention Network Tasks (Undergraduate Honors Thesis). University of Nebraska- Lincoln.
Nature has been shown to have beneficial effects on mood, self-discipline, short- term memory, and directed attention (Berman et al., 2008). The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between exposure to nature sounds and directed attention, and the relationship between familiarity and preference for nature sounds (defined as the Nature Quotient) and directed attention. In addition, hypothesized neural mechanisms will be presented to explain the influence of nature on self-discipline, short-term memory, and attention.
The study was conducted over the period of 15 weeks at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Eighty-one undergraduate students participated. During the study, their performance on an attention task was measured under a Nature vs Urban sounds condition or a Nature vs No-sound condition We first hypothesized that the participants in the Nature sounds condition would do better in the attention task than those in the urban sounds condition.
In addition, the participants completed a survey that measured both their background with nature, and their preference for Nature. Experience and preference for Nature were moderately correlated, so we decided to include them together in our computation of the Nature Quotient. According to our hypothesis, the higher a participant’s Nature Quotient, the better their performance on the attention task.
Before accounting for the Nature Quotient, mean performance scores were not significantly higher in the Nature sounds condition than in the urban sounds condition. After accounting for the Nature Quotient, there was not a significant correlation between the Nature and urban sounds condition and the Nature Quotient. There was, however, a significant correlation between the difference in performance between the Nature and no sounds conditions and participants’ nature quotient. The finding indicates that those with a high Nature Quotient might perform significantly better under the Nature sounds (vs. no-sounds condition) compared to those with a low Nature Quotient.
This study is important because it will help to determine how Nature sounds influence cognition, both from a performance-based and a neurologically based approach. This research has implications for educational environments as well as work environments.