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研究发现绿色植物的照片也能为人减压

更新时间:2016-3-22 10:45:16 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Greenery (or Even Photos of Trees) Can Make Us Happier
研究发现绿色植物的照片也能为人减压

A growing body of research shows that people who spend time outside in sunny, green and natural spaces tend to be happier and healthier than those who don’t. A study from Stanford last year, for example, found that young adults who walked for an hour through campus parkland were less anxious afterward and performed better on a test of working memory than if they had strolled along a busy street.

越来越多的研究表明,在阳光灿烂、绿意盎然的自然环境中度过更多时光的人比其他人更快乐、更健康。例如,斯坦福大学(Stanford)去年的一项研究发现,与在繁忙的街道散步相比,年轻人在校园草地散步一小时后,焦虑水平更低,在工作记忆测试中的表现也更好。

Precisely what is going on inside our bodies as we move through the greenery is largely unknown, however. It hasn’t even been made clear that nature itself is responsible for the greatest health benefits — they may come instead from physical activity, sunlight or, if you stroll with others, camaraderie. Now a new study published in The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health takes a step toward sorting these interactions out by focusing on pictures of the outdoors rather than on the real thing.

不过,我们对人在绿色环境中活动时身体里的确切情况基本不了解。我们甚至不清楚,对健康最有益的到底是大自然本身,还是身体活动、阳光或同伴情谊(如果是你和别人一起散步的话)。《国际环境研究和公共健康杂志》(The International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)目前发表的一项新研究试图弄清这些互相关系。它把焦点放在户外照片上,而非真实的户外环境上。

The researchers, most of them affiliated with VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, focused on the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems. The first responds to stress by triggering a fight-or-flight reaction, raising heart rates and putting us generally on edge; the second counters those responses, bringing physiological calm. For this study, nearly four dozen university students were outfitted with sensors to monitor electrical activity in the heart and then shown photos on a computer screen. Half the pictures displayed urban spaces full of buildings and parked cars; the rest were green places — but homely ones, like empty pathways flanked by trees, not majestic wilderness.

该研究的研究人员大多来自阿姆斯特丹自由大学医学中心(VU University Medical Center),他们关注的重点是交感和副交感神经系统。交感神经系统通过激发战斗或逃跑反应、加速心跳和保持身体紧张来应对压力;而副交感神经系统压制这些反应,保持生理上的平静。为了这个研究,他们找到近50名大学生,给他们装上感应器,以监测心电活动,然后让他们观看电脑屏幕上的照片。其中一半的照片展示了全是建筑物和静止汽车的城市空间,另一半是绿色空间,不过大多是常见的场景,比如两侧是绿树的无人小径,而不是壮观的野外景色。

Having viewed the photos, the students tackled a series of increasingly difficult computerized math problems while an on-screen assessment compared their results with the average performance and, whether accurately or not, showed them to be subpar. This test has proved to be a robust means of raising stress levels. Afterward, the subjects re-viewed the pictures, retook the math test, then looked at more photos.

看完照片后,这些学生要在电脑上解答一系列难度逐步加大的数学题,而屏幕上的评估器把他们的答案与平均成绩相比较。结果显示,他们成绩低于平均水平,虽然不确定准确与否。这证明了这项测试能迅速提高压力水平。之后,研究对象们再看照片,再做数学题,然后再看更多照片。

When the students saw green spaces after the math stressor, their parasympathetic nervous systems kicked in, lowering heart rates, for example. (Pictures from the concrete jungle had no such effect.) Interestingly, though, the same green scenes when viewed before the math test did not lessen the reaction to stress: Their heart rates still rose as they struggled with the problems.

学生们做完数学题看到绿色空间照片时,他们的副交感神经系统开始发挥作用,比如,降低他们的心率(高楼耸立的照片没有这样的作用)。不过有趣的是,在数学测试前观看同样的绿色场景照片未能减轻压力:他们努力解题时心率依然升高了。

In essence, the data suggest, ‘‘short durations of viewing green pictures may help people to recover from stress,’’ says Magdalena van den Berg, who led the study at the VU University Medical Center. Those same photos, she adds, probably won’t inoculate viewers against future stress. Still, ‘‘finding an effect with regard to such weak, even boring visual stimuli — no spectacular green views, no sound, no smells et cetera — is surprising,’’ she says. The effects would probably be magnified, she says, if someone could visit nature or even look out a window and see actual greenery. So if you can’t do that, set your screen saver to show trees, if possible, and request a cubicle with a view.

自由大学医学中心主持这项研究的玛格达莱娜·范登伯格(Magdalena van den Berg)指出,总的来说,这些数据表明“短时间观看绿色空间照片可以帮助人们从缓解压力”。她补充说,同样的照片很可能不会预先帮助观看者缓解未来的压力。不过她表示,“人们对这种微弱甚至乏味的视觉刺激都有反应,真是让人吃惊,因为它没有壮观的绿色美景,没有声音,也没有气味”。她还说,如果人们能到大自然中,甚至只是看看窗外,看看真实的绿色景观,效果很可能会更加明显。所以,如果你无法到户外,那么可以把你的屏保图片设置成绿树,并且有可能的话,申请一个能看到窗外绿色景致的隔间。

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