1. Study examines individuals’ perceptions of childbirth’s effects on sexuality

    December 2, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Wiley press release:

    Media reports have depicted vaginal birth as harmful and cesarean delivery as protective of sexuality, but research does not support these depictions. In a recent survey published in Birth, 16%-48% of participants endorsed beliefs consistent with these media reports, and individuals who endorsed these beliefs tended to identify as heterosexual; hold negative attitudes toward female genitalia; and report that reality, nonreality, and online media sources are influential in terms of childbirth information.

    Individuals who reported that healthcare professionals were an influential source of information were less likely to endorse these beliefs.

    “Although these depictions–of vaginal birth as harmful and cesarean delivery as protective of sexuality–are ubiquitous in popular media, we do not have a lot of information about how they are related to individuals’ perceptions of and preferences for childbirth,” said co-author Dr. Caroline Pukall, of Queen’s University, in Ontario. “Understanding childbirth from the viewpoint of a future generation of potential child bearers can help create current, relevant conversations and appropriate reproductive health education content.”


  2. Study suggests brain is strobing, not constant

    December 1, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Sydney press release:

    It’s not just our eyes that play tricks on us, but our ears. That’s the finding of a landmark Australian-Italian collaboration that provides new evidence that oscillations, or ‘strobes’, are a general feature of human perception.

    While our conscious experience appears to be continuous, the University of Sydney and Italian universities study suggests that perception and attention are intrinsically rhythmic in nature.

    This has profound implications for our understanding of human behaviour, how we interact with environment and make decisions.

    A paper published in Current Biology provides the important new evidence for the cyclical nature of perception.

    The key findings are:

    1. auditory perception oscillates over time and peak perception alternates between the ears — which is important for locating events in the environment; 2. auditory decision-making also oscillates; and 3. oscillations are a general feature of perception, not specific to vision.

    The work is the result of an Italian-Australian collaboration, involving Professor David Alais, Johahn Leung and Tam Ho of the schools of Psychology and Medical Science, University of Sydney; Professor David Burr from the Department of Neuroscience, University of Florence; and Professor Maria Concetta Morrone of the Department of Translational Medicine, University of Pisa.

    With a simple experiment, they showed that sensitivity for detecting weak sounds is not constant, but fluctuates rhythmically over time.

    It has been known for some years that our sight perception is cyclical but this is the first time it has been demonstrated that hearing is as well.

    “These findings that auditory perception also goes through peaks and troughs supports the theory that perception is not passive but in fact our understanding of the world goes through cycles,” said Professor Alais from the University of Sydney.

    “We have suspected for some time that the senses are not constant but are processed via cyclical, or rhythmic functions; these findings lend new weight to that theory.”

    These auditory cycles happen at the rate of about six per second. This may seem fast, but not in neuroscience, given that brain oscillations can occur at up to 100 times per second.

    “These findings are important as humans make decisions at the rate of about one-sixth of a second, which is in line with these auditory oscillations,” said Professor Alais.

    The study found a variation of oscillation between the two ears, first one ear is at peak sensitivity, then the other. The oscillation is so fast that we are normally unaware of it, but can be revealed in experiments using very fine-grained timing.

    Why should the brain sample information in this cyclic fashion? Theories abound, but one popular idea — favoured by the authors of this study — is that it reflects the action of attention which appears to sample neural activity in rapid bursts.

    The scientists are next focusing their attention on perceptions of touch and how this might make use of neural oscillations as part of a goal of characterising perception in general over all the senses.

    “The brain is such a complex ‘machine’ one could say — it is a testament to science that we are starting to make sense of it — but a takeaway could be that there is so much we don’t know,” Professor Alais concludes.

    “A decade ago, no one would have thought that perception is constantly strobing — flickering like an old silent movie

    For the moment, this research shows one thing very clearly: our sensory perception of the world is fundamentally oscillatory, like a strobing light or a wave waxing and waning.

    The strobing brain — how it works:

    When we peruse a scene, not all parts are equally important: some receive more attention than others and are prioritised in processing. This is an effective strategy, concentrating limited cognitive resources on specific items of interest, rather than diluting resources over the entire space.

    Similarly, oscillating attention would produce an analogous result over time, with resources concentrated into small temporal epochs instead of being sustained in a uniform but thin allocation.

    This strobing approach to attention would bind together relevant information at regular time points and allow new groupings of information to reassemble at other moments.


  3. Study suggests oxytocin makes smiling human faces attractive to dogs

    November 30, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Helsinki press release:

    Researchers in the University of Helsinki’s Canine Mind research project found that oxytocin made dogs interested in smiling human faces. It also made them see angry faces as less threatening. Associated with affection and trust, the hormone oxytocin is probably a key factor in the interaction between dogs and humans.

    “It seems that the hormone oxytocin influences what the dog sees and how it experiences the thing it sees,” says doctoral student Sanni Somppi.

    Researchers in the Canine Mind group showed 43 dogs images of smiling and angry faces on a computer screen. Each dog was tested twice: once under the influence of oxytocin, which was administered as part of the test, and once without oxytocin. The dog’s gaze on the images and pupil size were measured with an eye-tracking device. Emotions and attentiveness guide the gaze and regulate pupil size, making eye tracking a window into the dogs’ minds.

    Dogs typically focus on the most remarkable aspect of each situation, such as threatening stimuli in a frightening situation. Recognising and interpreting threats quickly is important for survival. Dogs under the influence of oxytocin were more interested in smiling faces than they were in angry ones.

    In addition, oxytocin also influenced the dogs’ emotional states, which was evident in their pupil size.

    “We were among the first researchers in the world to use pupil measurements in the evaluation of dogs’ emotional states. This method had previously only been used on humans and apes,” says Professor Outi Vainio, who heads the research group.

    Without oxytocin, the dogs’ pupils were at their largest when they looked at angry faces. This indicated that the angry faces caused the most powerful emotional reaction in the dogs. Under the influence of oxytocin, however, images of smiling faces enhanced the dogs’ emotional state more than angry ones. This is to say that oxytocin probably made the angry faces seem less threatening and the smiling faces more appealing.

    Both effects promote dog-human communication and the development of affectionate relations,” says Professor Vainio.

    Professor Vainio’s research group has previously successfully applied eye tracking and EEGs to studying the canine mind. In this study, the group partnered with József Topál, a Hungarian pioneer of canine research who specialises in dog-human interaction and the social intelligence of dogs.


  4. Study suggests brain stimulation can change how much we enjoy and value music

    November 29, 2017 by Ashley

    From the McGill University press release:

    Enjoyment of music is considered a subjective experience; what one person finds gratifying, another may find irritating. Music theorists have long emphasized that although musical taste is relative, our enjoyment of music, be it classical or heavy metal, arises, among other aspects, from structural features of music, such as chord or rhythm patterns that generate anticipation and expectancy.

    Now, researchers from the Montreal Neurological Institute and Hospital of McGill University have proven it is possible to increase or decrease our enjoyment of music, and our craving for more of it, by enhancement or disruption of certain brain circuits.

    Previous studies using brain imaging found that listening to pleasurable music engages brain circuits involved in reward anticipation and surprise, known as the fronto-striatal circuits. However, nobody had ever tested whether these circuits are essential to musical reward, or if they can be manipulated, leading to changes in subjective and physiological measures of experienced musical pleasure.

    In order to modulate the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits, the researchers from the lab of Robert Zatorre used a non-invasive brain stimulation technique, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), which uses magnetic pulses to either stimulate or inhibit selected parts of the brain. In this case, the researchers applied TMS over the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC). Brain imaging studies have shown that stimulation over this region modulates the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits, leading to the release of dopamine, a key neurotransmitter in reward processing.

    In three separate sessions, the researchers applied either excitatory, inhibitory or no real TMS over the left DLPFC to healthy participants. After the stimulation, participants listened to their own favorite music as well as a music selection chosen by the researchers. While listening to the music, participants had to rate in real-time their enjoyment of the music, and the researchers also measured their psychophysiological responses. In addition, participants were offered the opportunity to purchase the music selected by the researchers, using real money, in order to measure their motivation to listen to the music again.

    The researchers found that, compared to the control session, liking of music, psychophysiological measures of emotion and participants’ motivation to buy music were all enhanced by excitatory TMS, while all of these measures were decreased by inhibitory TMS.

    “Their findings show that the functioning of fronto-striatal circuits is essential for our enjoyment of music. This indicates that the role of these circuits in learning and motivation may be indispensable for the experience of musical pleasure,” says Ernest Mas Herrero, a postdoctoral fellow and the study’s first author.

    Mas Herrero is now using a combination of TMS and functional magnetic resonance imaging to determine which specific regions and circuits are responsible of the changes found in this study.

    “Showing that pleasure and value of music can be changed by the application of TMS is not only an important — and remarkable — demonstration that the circuitry behind these complex responses is now becoming better understood, but it also has possible clinical applications,” says Robert Zatorre, a professor of neurology and neurosurgery and the study’s senior author. “Many psychological disorders such as addiction, obesity, and depression involve poor regulation of reward circuitry. Showing that this circuit can be manipulated so specifically in relation to music opens the door for many possible future applications in which the reward system may need to be up- or down-regulated.”


  5. Study suggests exposure to thin-ideal media affect most, but not all, women

    November 24, 2017 by Ashley

    From the Chapman University press release:

    Chapman University has published research measuring women’s perceptions of how media impacts their body image. Results showed that many women reported feeling worse about their bodies when shown media images of bikini or fashion models, compared to those shown images of paintings or products.

    Women reported the bikini/ fashion model images made them feel worse about the following, in order: Stomach, weight, waist, overall appearance, muscle tone, legs, thighs, buttocks, hips, arms and breasts. Only six percent of women reported feeling negative effects after viewing images of women in paintings or products.

    “Our results show that seeing slender and bikini-clad models had an immediate and direct impact on how women feel about their own bodies- and that impact was mostly negative,” said David A. Frederick, Ph.D, assistant professor of health psychology at Chapman University and lead author on this study. “Our findings highlight the important role of media in shaping women’s feelings about their bodies.”

    This approach differs from previous studies that relied on women’s general recollections or impressions of how media affected them. The current study contributes to the ongoing debate about how much media matters in determining how attractive someone feels. The participants provided researchers with statements describing how the images made them feel about their bodies. These include:

    “The images made me feel worse about myself because the models’ bodies were all so toned and beautiful. They were tall, skinny, had smooth skin, and had perfect breasts. Compared to them, I felt ugly and not attractive.”

    “They all look so fit and healthy. I look much worse in comparison. I feel worse because there is nothing that I could do to look like them.”

    Another significant result from the study indicated that women who viewed the bikini/ fashion model images showed more interest in dieting and exercising to lose weight. Nearly half said the images made them less interested in wearing a swimsuit in public.

    The study, called “Exposure to thin-ideal media affect most, but not all, women: Results from the perceived effects of media exposure scale and open-ended responses”, was published in the journal Body Image. Researchers questioned 1,426 women across two studies to share how they felt about their bodies after exposure to 10 fashion models, bikini models, paintings, or products. Results showed that most women reported feeling worse about some aspect of their body immediately after seeing the fashion and bikini models.


  6. How emotions influence our internal clock

    November 23, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Freiburg press release:

    Just how it works is not known — but human beings have an internal clock which enables us to perceive and estimate periods of time subconsciously. A research team under Dr. Roland Thomaschke of the University of Freiburg’s Department of Psychology showed in experiments that this mental time-processing system is able to adapt quickly and flexibly to predictive time patterns. The study has been published in the specialist journal Emotion.

    The psychologists examined time periods between one and three seconds. Their test subjects were given the task of sorting nouns — which appeared one after another on a computer screen — according to gender (German nouns are grammatically masculine, feminine, or neuter). During the transition to the next word, a small cross was shown. What the test subjects did not know — they were looking at concepts which are seen as positive or negative, such as love and friendship on the one hand, torture and death on the other. With most of the “positive” nouns, the cross appeared before them for half a second; with most of the negative nouns it was for two seconds. “The pattern influenced the test subjects although they were not aware of it,” says Thomaschke. “If the combination was unusual, like a long interval before a positive concept, they had considerable difficulty sorting according to gender.” But this irritation was not manifested when no emotions were involved. With other test subjects, the psychologists used concrete and abstract concepts instead of positive and negative ones — and the effect was not observed in this case.

    This result helps to better understand human perception. In conversation, for instance, it can be observed that positive, agreeing answers are given faster than negative, rejecting ones. This experience leads to participants in online conferences — in which spoken contributions are preceded by a time delay due to the technology used — being regarded by the other participants as being negative; the experience of everyday conversation is subconsciously carried over into the conference situation. The results also suggest how it may be possible to get people’s attention. For example, if a website always shows advertising after the same period of time, users will be able to predict and better ignore it subconsciously. For advertisers it would therefore make sense to fade in advertising at irregular intervals — and to get attention by creating that irritation.


  7. Study suggests mammal brains identify type of scent faster than once thought

    by Ashley

    From the NYU Langone Health / NYU School of Medicine press release:

    It takes less than one-tenth of a second — a fraction of the time previously thought — for the sense of smell to distinguish between one odor and another, new experiments in mice show.

    In a study to be published in the journal Nature Communications online Nov. 14, researchers at NYU School of Medicine found that odorants — chemical particles that trigger the sense of smell — need only reach a few signaling proteins on the inside lining of the nose for the mice to identify a familiar aroma. Just as significantly, researchers say they also found that the animals’ ability to tell odors apart was the same no matter how strong the scent (regardless of odorant concentration).

    “Our study lays the groundwork for a new theory about how mammals, including humans, smell: one that is more streamlined than previously thought,” says senior study investigator and neurobiologist Dmitry Rinberg, PhD. His team is planning further animal experiments to look for patterns of brain cell activation linked to smell detection and interpretation that could also apply to people.

    “Much like human brains only need a few musical notes to name a particular song once a memory of it is formed, our findings demonstrate that a mouse’s sense of smell needs only a few nerve signals to determine the kind of scent,” says Rinberg, an associate professor at NYU Langone Health and its Neuroscience Institute.

    When an odorant initially docks into its olfactory receptor protein on a nerve cell in the nose, the cell sends a signal to the part of the brain that assigns the odor, identifying the smell, says Rinberg.

    Key among his team’s latest findings was that mice recognize a scent right after activation of the first few olfactory brain receptors, and typically within the first 100 milliseconds of inhaling any odorant.

    Previous research in animals had shown that it takes as long as 600 milliseconds for almost all olfactory brain receptors involved in their sense of smell to become fully activated, says Rinberg. However, earlier experiments in mice, which inhale through the nose faster than humans and have a faster sense of smell, showed that the number of activated receptors in their brains peaks after approximately 300 milliseconds.

    Earlier scientific investigations had also shown that highly concentrated scents activated more receptors. But Rinberg says that until his team’s latest experiments, researchers had not yet outlined the role of concentration in the odor identification process.

    For the new study, mice were trained to lick a straw to get a water reward based on whether they smelled orange- or pine-like scents.

    Using light-activated fibers inserted into the mouse nose, researchers could turn on individual brain receptors or groups of receptors involved in olfaction to control and track how many receptors were available to smell at any time. The optical technique was developed at NYU Langone.

    The team then tested how well the mice performed on water rewards when challenged by different concentrations of each smell, and with more or fewer receptors available for activation. Early activation of too many receptors, the researchers found, impaired odor identification, increasing the number of errors made by trained mice in getting their reward.

    Researchers found that early interruptions in sensing smell, less than 50 milliseconds from inhalation, reduced odor identification scores nearly to chance. By contrast, reward scores greatly improved when the mouse sense of smell was interrupted at any point after 50 milliseconds, but these gains fell off after 100 milliseconds.


  8. Study looks at how well we perceive other people’s stress levels in the workplace

    November 21, 2017 by Ashley

    From the American Friends of Tel Aviv University press release:

    A new Tel Aviv University study finds that people often project their own experiences with stress onto their colleagues and employees, causing miscommunication and, often, missed opportunities.

    “This study is the first to show that our own psychological mindset determines how we judge other peoples’ responses to stress — specifically, whether we perceive stress as positive or negative,” said principal investigator Prof. Sharon Toker of TAU’s Coller School of Management.

    The research was published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

    The positives and negatives of stress

    “This research informs the way managers assess their employees’ ability to take on different workloads. It may also inform our relationships with our spouses — or with our children,” Prof. Toker says. “For example, a typical ‘tiger mom’ is sure that stress is a good thing. She may simply not see how burned out her child may be.”

    Experiments conducted by Prof. Toker and researchers Prof. Daniel Heller and Nili Ben-Avi, also of TAU’s Coller School of Management, found that a person’s individual stress mindset colors the way he or she will perceive a colleague or employee’s health, work productivity and degree of burnout.

    “If a manager perceives that a certain employee doesn’t suffer from stress, that manager will be more likely to consider the employee worthy of promotion,” Prof. Toker says. “But because the manager believes that stress is a positive quality that leads to self-sufficiency, the manager will also be less likely to offer assistance if the employee needs it,” Prof. Toker says.

    Prof. Toker and her colleagues recruited 377 American employees for an online “stress-at-work” questionnaire. Participants were asked to read a description of “Ben,” a fictitious employee who works long hours, has a managerial position and needs to multitask. The employees then rated his burnout levels and completed a stress mindset questionnaire about Ben.

    The more participants saw stress as positive and enhancing, the more they perceived Ben as experiencing less burnout and consequently rated him as more worthy of being promoted,” Prof. Toker says.

    Changing minds

    The researchers also wanted to see whether they could change people’s perceptions of stress and consequently change the way they perceive other peoples’ stress. They conducted a series of further experiments among 600 employed Israelis and Americans to determine whether their stress mindset can be cultivated or changed.

    The researchers randomly assigned the employees to “enhancing” or “debilitating” stress mindset groups of 120-350 people. Using a technique called “priming” — prompting participants to think of the word “stress” in either positive or negative terms — the participants were asked to write about past stress experiences in either a “positive/enhancing” or “negative/debilitating” way. They were then asked to read a description of Ben’s workload and assess Ben’s burnout, rate of productivity and psychosomatic symptoms.

    Participants were also asked whether Ben should be promoted and whether they would be willing to help him with his workload.

    “Study participants who were primed to have a positive/enhancing stress mindset rated Ben as suffering less from stress-related symptoms and were consequently more likely to recommend Ben for promotion. They were also less likely to offer him help,” Prof. Heller says. “But those primed to feel as though stress was debilitating/negative felt that Ben was more burned out and consequently less fit to be promoted.”

    “Your stress mindset will affect your judgement of other people’s stress responses,” Ben-Avi concludes. “But we have shown that even if stress affects you positively, it can distort the way you see your colleagues, your employees, your spouses, even your own children. We should be very careful about assessing other people’s stress levels.”


  9. Study suggests celebrity and status may not always help companies

    November 19, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Notre Dame press release:

    Businesses that have attracted lots of positive media coverage and are also affiliated with high-status venture capitalists or underwriters may seem like poster children for corporate success. But new research from the University of Notre Dame shows this kind of attention may be too much of a good thing.

    The study “Safe Bets or Hot Hands? How Status and Celebrity Influence Strategic Alliance Formations by Newly Public Firms” defines the media attention aspect as “celebrity” and the venture capitalist and underwriter affiliations as “status.” Together, they serve as lenses that influence how people process other information about a firm, according to researcher Tim Hubbard, assistant professor of management in Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. But possessing both assets–celebrity and status together–is actually more of a disadvantage than possessing one or the other.

    “We show that possessing multiple social approval assets might not always be beneficial,” says Hubbard. “The relative predictability of high-status firms conflicts with the rebel nature of celebrities. It’s like looking through two different–and incompatible–lenses at the same time.”

    This challenges the assumption that accumulating such assets is always beneficial. The study– co-authored by Timothy Pollock, Michael Pfarrer and Violina Rindova and forthcoming in The Academy of Management Journal–shows that managers need to think about these assets in context.

    The researchers studied 347 internet tech startups that went public in the late 1990s and early 2000s, looking at whether they had celebrity and/or high status. They examined how many strategic alliances each firm had one year after going public, based on how potential alliances viewed the firm’s underpricing (change in stock price on the first day of trading).

    While celebrities were plentiful during this period, not all had high status. For example, MapQuest, Peapod, Salon and VerticalNet were all darlings, but were not backed by the highest status actors. Some–such as Pets.com, E-loan and Infoseek–were able to attain both celebrity and high status. All of these firms had varying degrees of success in attracting strategic alliance partners.

    “Celebrity played a big part in alliance formation when the firm had high underpricing, where the stock price experienced a ‘pop’ on the first day of trading,” Hubbard says, pointing to software and consulting services company Ariba as an example. The stock price almost tripled on its first day of trading in January 2002. By the end of its first year, it had 23 strategic alliances, compared to the average number of 2.4 alliances for sample firms in the study.

    “We also discovered that firms with both celebrity and high status had fewer partners one year after their initial public offering,” says Hubbard. High status firms had 1.65 fewer alliances if they had celebrity, compared to if they didn’t.

    “It changes our perspective on how these two intangible resources influence stakeholders,” he says. “Instead of only considering the baseline benefits of status or celebrity, we need to look at how these assets color stakeholders’ perceptions of other information.”

    Hubbard hopes the research can help managers better understand the nuances of intangible assets.

    “Viewing a firm through two different lenses can be difficult,” he says. “Rather than trying to gather every intangible asset, managers should consider which ones complement their organization. Not every firm needs to be a celebrity, and not every celebrity needs to have high status.”


  10. Study looks at perceptions of what nature is

    November 18, 2017 by Ashley

    From the University of Washington press release:

    Think, for a moment, about the last time you were out in nature. Were you in a city park? At a campground? On the beach? In the mountains?

    Now consider: What was this place like in your parents’ time? Your grandparents’? In many cases, the parks, beaches and campgrounds of today are surrounded by more development, or are themselves more developed, than they were decades ago.

    But to you, they still feel like nature.

    That’s what University of Washington psychology professor Peter Kahn calls “environmental generational amnesia” — the idea that each generation perceives the environment into which it’s born, no matter how developed, urbanized or polluted, as the norm. And so what each generation comes to think of as “nature” is relative, based on what it’s exposed to.

    In a new paper, which Kahn co-authored with doctoral student Thea Weiss, in the latest issue of Children, Youth and Environments, they argue that more frequent and meaningful interactions with nature can enhance our connection to — and definition of — the natural world.

    “There’s a shifting baseline of what we consider the environment, and as that baseline becomes impoverished, we don’t even see it,” Kahn said. “If we just try to teach people the importance of nature, that’s not going to work. They have to interact with it.”

    For years, Kahn has examined how people perceive and impact the environment. As cities grow and open spaces shrink, it is environmental generational amnesia, Kahn argues, that enables development to continue relentlessly. Each generation inherits a new baseline for what nature is, and what “normal” surroundings are.

    During his early years in academia, Kahn studied children’s concepts of the environment in Houston, one of the largest and most polluted cities in the country. He found that, when children were asked about air pollution, most could explain it and point out other cities that were polluted — but not their own.

    “With each ensuing generation, the amount of environmental degradation increases, but each generation tends to perceive that degraded condition as the nondegraded condition, as the normal experience,” Kahn and Weiss wrote in their paper.

    Research has linked exposure to the outdoors with physical and mental health benefits, greater ability to focus and communicate with others and an overall improvement in quality of life. At the same time, health conditions connected to sedentary lifestyles, such as diabetes and obesity, are on the rise.

    One solution is to provide opportunities — for children and adults — for encounters with “big nature.” By big, Kahn means wild, in the most traditional sense: old-growth forests, unshackled rivers and untamed species like grizzly bears and native trout.

    But “big nature,” he concedes, is also relative: To a child in a city, playing in a fountain is an experience with a natural element. Kahn said he tries to be realistic about how and where people live; interacting with nature can mean accessing what is available, while aspiring to what is not.

    Interacting with nature makes a difference in how people view and move in the world, Kahn said.

    To gain perspective on what children learn from nature, the authors turned to a Seattle preschool, Fiddleheads Forest School, where director Kit Harrington has created a curriculum shaped by the outdoors. There, the authors observed children developing skills that adults might take for granted but that are only learned through the experience of being outside: mimicking bird calls, digging in the dirt and even protecting one’s body during a fall.

    “Knowing how to do that is not a given,” Kahn said. “We have an entire generation that spends so much time in front of screens that, when they do go out into nature, they don’t know how to interact with it, or handle themselves.”

    Meaningful interactions with nature not only can teach, but also help people rejuvenate, reflect and recognize the importance of the outdoors. If a bike path, playground or trailhead is the closest nature to you, then you should take advantage of it. Developing a “nature language” — encountering the environment in ways large and small that result in positive feelings — can begin to reverse environmental generational amnesia.

    In Seattle, the city’s largest park can serve as a laboratory for how people interact with nature. To that end, Kahn and his research group are collecting feedback from Discovery Park visitors about their experience there. The effort is a way, Kahn said, to give voice to the perspectives and experiences of people who visit the park and to learn what nature means to them.

    “A park of that size allows for interactions with nature that are almost impossible to have in the city. It’s not enough, but it’s better than not having it,” Kahn said. “A bigger park is better than a smaller park, and a smaller park is better than no park.

    “You can’t take nature for granted anywhere. Even in Seattle.”