A neuro-scientific approach to environment care

J. Puigdefábregas, M. Pérez-García


Grass-root feedback to public agencies’ policies for coping with global change threats is poor and reactive. Concurrently, human population becomes more urban, isolated from nature and unable to take personal decisions about it. Therefore, helping societal involvement and proactive behavior towards nature is a crucial challenge nowadays. This paper intends to explore the role of emotions in support of a positive interaction in human/environment systems, to assess their evolutionary changes and ways to eventually readdress its trend. For that purpose, the latest neuroscientific findings are applied to disentangle the nature impact on the human emotional system by comparing the present people’s attitudes to those from pre-agrarian cultures. This knowledge allows drawing guidelines to improve people´s concern to care for the environment.



Landscape; emotions; neuro-scientific approach; pre-agrarian cultures

Full Text:



Arsenyev, V. 1923/2004. Dersu Uzalá. University Press of the Pacific. Honolulu.

Biesele, M. 1978. Sapience and scarce resources: Communication systems of the !Kung and other foragers. Social Science Information 17 (6), 921-947 https://doi.org/10.1177/053901847801700607.

Bird-David, N. 1990. The giving environment: Another perspective on the economic system of gatherer-hunters. Current Anthropology 31 (2), 189-196. https://doi.org/10.1086/203825.

Bullier, J. 2001. Integrated model of visual processing. Brain Research Reviews 36 (2-3), 96-107. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0165-0173(01)00085-6.

Cloquell-Ballester, V.A., Torres-Sibille, A.C., Cloquell-Ballester, V.A., Santamarina-Siurana M.C. 2012. Human alteration of the rural landscape: Variations in visual perception. Environmental Assessment Review 32, 50-60. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eiar.2011.03.002.

Damasio, A. 1996.The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 351, 1413-1420. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.1996.0125.

Dixon, T. 2012. “Emotion”: The history of a keyword in crisis. Emotion Review 4 (4), 338-334. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073912445814.

González Bernáldez, F., Gallardo, D., Abello, R.P. 1987. Children’s landscape preferences: From rejection to attraction. Journal of Environmental Psychology 7 (2), 169-176. https://doi. org/10.1016/S0272-4944(87)80024-5.

Hartig, T., van der Berg, A.E., Hagerhall, C.M., Tomalak, M., Bauer, N., Hansmann, R., Ojala, A., Syngollitou, E., Carrus, G., van der Herzele, A., Bell, S., Camilleri Podesta, M.T., Waaseth, G. 2011. Health benefits of nature experience: psychological, social and cultural processes. In: K. Nilsson, M. Sangster, C. Gallis, T. Hartig, S. de Vries, K. Seeland, J. Schipperijn (Eds.), Forests, Trees and Human Health, Springer Science, 427 pp. htpps://doi.org/10.1007/978-90-481-9806-1_5.

Hoffman, M.L. 2000. Empathy and moral development: Implications for caring and justice. Cambrige Univesity Press, New York, 325 pp.

Ingold, T. 2000. The perception of the environment. Routledge, London, 465 pp.

Izard, C. 2009. Emotion theory and research highlights, unanswered questions and emerging issues. Annual Review of Psychology 60, 1-25. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev. psych.60.110707.163539.

Johnson, A.W., Earle, T. 2000. The evolution of human societies. Stanford University Press, 440 pp.

Kaplan, R., Kaplan, S., Brown, T. 1989. Environmental preference: A comparison of four models of predictors. Environment and Behavior 21 (5), 509-530. https://doi. org/10.1177/0013916589215001.

Kaplan, S. 1988. Perception and landscape: conceptions and misconceptions. In: J.L. Nasar (Ed.), Environmental aesthetics: Theory, research, and application, Cambridge University Press, pp. 45-55.

Kim, T. H., Jeong, G.W., Baek, H.S., Kim, G.W., Sundaram, T., Kang, H.K., Lee, S.W., Kim, H.J., Song, J.K. 2010. Human brain activation in response to visual stimulation with rural and urban scenery pictures: A functional magnetic resonance imaging study. Science of the Total Environment 408 (12), 2600-2607. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.scitotenv.2010.02.025.

Krasny, M.E., Tidball, K.G. 2012. Civic Ecology: a pathway for Earth Stewardship in cities. Frontiers in Ecology of the Environment 10 (5), 267-273. https://doi.org/10.1890/110230. Langer, S.K. 1967/1982. Mind: An essay of human feeling. Johns Hopkins University Press. Baltimore, 422 pp.

Margalef, R. 1997. Our Biosphere. In: O. Kinne (Ed.), Excellence in Ecology. Ecology Institute, Olendorf/Luhe. https://doi.org/10.1002/iroh.19970820411.

Petersen, S.E., Posner, M.I. 2012. The attention system of the human brain: 20 years after. Annual Review of Neuroscience 35, 73-89. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-neuro-062111-150525. Proffitt, D.R. 2006. Embodied perception and the economy of action. Perspectives on Psychological Science 1 (2). http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-6916.2006.00008.x.

Puigdefábregas, J., Pérez García, M. 2014. Landscape as a central experience in the interaction between humans and their natural environment. In: J. Arnáez, P. González-Sampériz, T. Lasanta, B. Valero-Garcés, B. (Eds.), Geología, cambio ambiental y paisaje: Homenaje al Prof. J. M. García Ruiz. Universidad de la Rioja, Logroño, pp. 451-460.

Russell, A., Etienne-Cummings, R. 2012. Perceptual organization, attention and object recognition: closing the loop. 46th Annual Conference on Information Sciences and Systems (CISS), IEEE, Princeton. https://doi/org/10.1109/CISS.2012.6310919.

Salk, J. 1985.The Anatomy of Reality. Merging of Intuition and Reality. Praeger Publishers Inc., New York, pp. 1-160.

Singh, S.N., Donavan, D.T., Mishra, S., Little, T.D. 2008. The latent structure of landscape perception: A mean and covariance structure modeling approach. Journal of Environmental Psychology 28 (4), 339-352. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2008.03.004.

Tang, Y.Y., Rothbart, M.K., Posner, M.I. 2012. Neural correlates of establishing, maintaining and switching brain states. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 16 (6), 330-337. https://doi. org/10.1016/j.tics.2012.05.001.

Tschakert, P., Tutu, R., Alcaro, A. 2013. Embodied experiences of environmental and climatic changes in landscapes everyday life in Ghana. Emotion, Space and Society 7, 13-25. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.emospa.2011.11.001.

Wagemans, J., Elder, J.H., Kubov, S., Palme, S.E., Mary, A., Peterson, M.A., Singh, M., von der Heydt, R. 2012a. A century of gestalt psychology in visual perception I. Perceptual grouping and figure-ground organization. Psychological Bulletin 138 (6), 1172-1217. https://doi. org/10.1037/a0029333.

Wagemans, J., Feldman, J., Gepshtein, S., Kimchi, R., Pomerantz, J.R, van der Helm, P.A., van Leeuwen, C. 2012b. A century of gestalt psychology in visual perception II. Conceptual and theoretical foundations. Psychological Bulletin 138 (6), 1218-1252. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0029334.

Zhang, N.R., von der Heydt, R. 2010. Analysis of the context integration mechanisms underlying figure-ground organization in the visual cortex. The Journal of Neuroscience 30 (19), 6482-6496. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5168-09.201.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18172/cig.3585

© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 0211-6820

EISSN 1697-9540