Natural surroundings, including green spaces, may be beneficial for brain development in children. A new Spanish study shows that proximity to green spaces was associated with better scores on tests of attention

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Growing up in close proximity to natural surroundings, including green spaces, may be beneficial for brain development in children, according to Spanish researchers.

The study published in Environment Health Perspectives was based on data from 1,500 children of the INMA – Environment and Childhood Project cohort in Sabadell and Valencia, collected during 2003-2013.

Previous research has shown that nature is good for children in many ways. For example, another Spanish study found that green spaces within and around city schools improve the mental development of young children.

This new study examined how children growing up with nature close to their home develop cognizance and are have it easier to concentrate. The more vegetation around their homes, the better the children performed on different attention tests during their upbringing.

The research team analyzed residential surrounding greenness – at 100, 300 and 500 meters distance – at birth, 4-5 years and 7 years of age. Then, two types of attention tests were performed at 4-5 and 7 years of age. The research shows that children with higher greenness around their homes had better scores in the attention tests.

“Green spaces in cities promote social connections and physical activity and reduce exposure to air pollution and noise, and are therefore essential for the development of the future generations’ brains”

– Jordi Sunyer, study coordinator and head of the Child Health Programme at ISGlobal

This shows the importance of green spaces in cities for children’s health and development, the researchers write in their study.


Dadvand et al. “Lifelong Residential Exposure to Green Space and Attention: A Population-Based Prospective Study“. Environment Health Perspectives, September 2017. Doi: 10.1289 / EHP694