This study builds on previous research using mobile electroencephalography (EEG) to understand the impact of three different urban environments (busy, quiet and green urban spaces) on brain activity. Ninety-five participants aged over 65 years took part. Each one undertook one of six walks in an urban neighbourhood, transitioning between two distinct environmental settings.
The authors explore changes in alpha (associated with relaxation) and beta (associated with attention) brain activity recorded during walking in differing urban environments.
Neural activity significantly varies as participants walk between urban busy and green settings, with reduced levels of low beta activity in the green setting, suggesting attention changes consistent with Attention Restoration Theory. Levels of alpha activity significantly varied between the urban busy and the urban quiet settings, with increases in the urban busy setting. There were no significant differences in EEG activity between the urban green and urban quiet settings. This suggests that the degree of environmental contrast between the urban busy context and the quiet and green urban settings is an important factor in understanding the effects of these spaces on brain activity.