Ever wondered where to go to for that planned getaway to rejuvenate your brain, mind, and well-being? A study has suggested the forest.


According to the study published in the Scientific Reports journal, living near nature can have a positive effect on the amygdala — a part of the brain important for processing stress and reacting to danger.

The study, carried out by the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Germany, looked at the effect of being close to nature on the brains of city dwellers.

The researchers found out that noise, pollution, and the high number of people in the small space of a city are contributing factors to chronic stress.


For the study, participants — 341 adults aged 61 to 82 — were asked to complete memory and reasoning tests and to undergo MRI scans to assess the structure of stress-processing brain regions, especially the amygdala.

The MRI data were then combined with geoinformation on the participants’ places of residence.

Kühn and her team found that city dwellers who lived close to a forest were more likely to have a physiologically healthy amygdala structure, suggesting that they were better able to cope with stress.


“Research on brain plasticity supports the assumption that the environment can shape brain structure and function,” explained first author Simone Kühn.

“Studies of people in the countryside have already shown that living close to nature is good for their mental health and well-being. We therefore decided to examine city dwellers.”

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