Nature and the Brain


Image by derekp*

I spent parts of my childhood summers at camp, where youngsters slept cricket-infused nights in canvas bungalows and swam and hiked through mosquito-blitzed days. As a teenager, I backpacked in the Adirondacks and the Rockies. I have idly gazed at sunsets on the west coasts of Michigan, of Florida, and of a small island in Ontario. I miss those days—it’s been a long time. Afterward you feel energized, refreshed. It’s common sense to see nature vacations as inherently restorative, right? True enough. But recently, as reported in the New York Times, five eminent researchers took to the environs of the San Juan River in southern Utah to see what they could discover about “getting away from it all” in nature, from the perspective of brain science. They seem to have come away from the experience with more questions than they went in with, and with some innovative ideas about ways to address them. Continue reading