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      The role of neighbourhood greenspace in children's spatial working memory


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          Exposure to nature may be particularly beneficial for the brain regions that support spatial working memory, a strong correlate of academic achievement.


          To explore whether children living in greener neighbourhoods (wards) have better spatial working memory.


          Drawn from the UK's Millennium Cohort Study, the sample was 4,758 11‐year‐olds living in urban areas in England.


          We fitted two‐level regression models, with children nested in wards, before and after adjustment for confounders, including poverty, parental education, sports participation, neighbourhood deprivation, and neighbourhood history. Spatial working memory was measured using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery Spatial Working Memory task. Greenspace was measured as the percentage of greenery in the child's ward.


          Even after controlling for confounders, lower quantity of neighbourhood greenspace was related to poorer spatial working memory. Importantly, neighbourhood deprivation did not modify this relationship. Therefore, lower quantity of greenspace was related to poorer spatial working memory similarly in deprived and non‐deprived neighbourhoods.


          Children living in greener urban neighbourhoods have better spatial working memory. If this association is causal, then our findings can be used to inform policy decisions about both education and urban planning.

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          Most cited references35

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          Green space, urbanity, and health: how strong is the relation?

          To investigate the strength of the relation between the amount of green space in people's living environment and their perceived general health. This relation is analysed for different age and socioeconomic groups. Furthermore, it is analysed separately for urban and more rural areas, because the strength of the relation was expected to vary with urbanity. The study includes 250 782 people registered with 104 general practices who filled in a self administered form on sociodemographic background and perceived general health. The percentage of green space (urban green space, agricultural space, natural green space) within a one kilometre and three kilometre radius around the postal code coordinates was calculated for each household. Multilevel logistic regression analyses were performed at three levels-that is, individual level, family level, and practice level-controlled for sociodemographic characteristics. The percentage of green space inside a one kilometre and a three kilometre radius had a significant relation to perceived general health. The relation was generally present at all degrees of urbanity. The overall relation is somewhat stronger for lower socioeconomic groups. Elderly, youth, and secondary educated people in large cities seem to benefit more from presence of green areas in their living environment than other groups in large cities. This research shows that the percentage of green space in people's living environment has a positive association with the perceived general health of residents. Green space seems to be more than just a luxury and consequently the development of green space should be allocated a more central position in spatial planning policy.
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            Green spaces and cognitive development in primary schoolchildren.

            Exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health. Although this exposure could also influence cognitive development in children, available epidemiological evidence on such an impact is scarce. This study aimed to assess the association between exposure to green space and measures of cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. This study was based on 2,593 schoolchildren in the second to fourth grades (7-10 y) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012-2013). Cognitive development was assessed as 12-mo change in developmental trajectory of working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness by using four repeated (every 3 mo) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome. We assessed exposure to green space by characterizing outdoor surrounding greenness at home and school and during commuting by using high-resolution (5 m × 5 m) satellite data on greenness (normalized difference vegetation index). Multilevel modeling was used to estimate the associations between green spaces and cognitive development. We observed an enhanced 12-mo progress in working memory and superior working memory and a greater 12-mo reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenness within and surrounding school boundaries and with total surrounding greenness index (including greenness surrounding home, commuting route, and school). Adding a traffic-related air pollutant (elemental carbon) to models explained 20-65% of our estimated associations between school greenness and 12-mo cognitive development. Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive development among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduction in exposure to air pollution.
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              Interactions between attention and working memory.

              Studies of attention and working memory address the fundamental limits in our ability to encode and maintain behaviorally relevant information, processes that are critical for goal-driven processing. Here we review our current understanding of the interactions between these processes, with a focus on how each construct encompasses a variety of dissociable phenomena. Attention facilitates target processing during both perceptual and postperceptual stages of processing, and functionally dissociated processes have been implicated in the maintenance of different kinds of information in working memory. Thus, although it is clear that these processes are closely intertwined, the nature of these interactions depends upon the specific variety of attention or working memory that is considered.

                Author and article information

                Br J Educ Psychol
                Br J Educ Psychol
                The British Journal of Educational Psychology
                John Wiley and Sons Inc. (Hoboken )
                05 September 2018
                June 2019
                : 89
                : 2 ( doiID: 10.1111/bjep.2019.89.issue-2 )
                : 359-373
                [ 1 ] Department of Psychology and Human Development UCL Institute of Education University College London UK
                Author notes
                [*] [* ]Correspondence should be addressed to Eirini Flouri, Department of Psychology and Human Development, UCL Institute of Education, University College London, 25 Woburn Square, London WC1H 0AA, UK (email: e.flouri@ 123456ucl.ac.uk ).
                © 2018 The Authors. British Journal of Educational Psychology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of British Psychological Society

                This is an open access article under the terms of the http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/ License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Page count
                Figures: 4, Tables: 2, Pages: 15, Words: 7213
                Funded by: Economic and Social Research Council
                Award ID: ES/N007921/1
                Original Article
                Original Articles
                Custom metadata
                June 2019
                Converter:WILEY_ML3GV2_TO_NLMPMC version:5.6.4 mode:remove_FC converted:13.06.2019

                children,greenspace,neighbourhood,neighbourhood deprivation,spatial working memory


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