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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15(2), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15020213

Physiological Effects of Visual Stimulation with Forest Imagery

1
Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences, Chiba University, 6-2-1 Kashiwa-no-ha, Kashiwa, Chiba 277-0882, Japan
2
Department of Wood Engineering, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute, 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan
These authors contributed equally to this work.
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 15 November 2017 / Revised: 10 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 26 January 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Evidence-Based Nature Therapy: Advances in Physiological Evaluation)
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Abstract

This study was aimed to clarify the physiological effects of visual stimulation using forest imagery on activity of the brain and autonomic nervous system. Seventeen female university students (mean age, 21.1 ± 1.0 years) participated in the study. As an indicator of brain activity, oxyhemoglobin (oxy-Hb) concentrations were measured in the left and right prefrontal cortex using near-infrared time-resolved spectroscopy. Heart rate variability (HRV) was used as an indicator of autonomic nervous activity. The high-frequency (HF) component of HRV, which reflected parasympathetic nervous activity, and the ratio of low-frequency (LF) and high-frequency components (LF/HF), which reflected sympathetic nervous activity, were measured. Forest and city (control) images were used as visual stimuli using a large plasma display window. After sitting at rest viewing a gray background for 60 s, participants viewed two images for 90 s. During rest and visual stimulation, HRV and oxy-Hb concentration in the prefrontal cortex were continuously measured. Immediately thereafter, subjective evaluation of feelings was performed using a modified semantic differential (SD) method. The results showed that visual stimulation with forest imagery induced (1) a significant decrease in oxy-Hb concentrations in the right prefrontal cortex and (2) a significant increase in perceptions of feeling “comfortable,” “relaxed,” and “natural.” View Full-Text
Keywords: forest therapy; shinrin-yoku; forest imagery; autonomic nervous activity; prefrontal cortex activity; heart rate variability; near-infrared spectroscopy; semantic differential method; physiological relaxation; preventive medical effect forest therapy; shinrin-yoku; forest imagery; autonomic nervous activity; prefrontal cortex activity; heart rate variability; near-infrared spectroscopy; semantic differential method; physiological relaxation; preventive medical effect
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Song, C.; Ikei, H.; Miyazaki, Y. Physiological Effects of Visual Stimulation with Forest Imagery. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2018, 15, 213.

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