Skip to content
Surprising Science

Green Spaces Boost Memory and Attention in Kids

Surrounding schools with green spaces may help boost cognition in kids.

Air pollution is a major contributor to health problems, such as asthma and heart disease. Schools located in heavily trafficked areas pose a risk to kids, exposing them to exhaust fumes from cars zipping by all day long. But what about schools located in greener areas?

Olga Khazan of The Atlantic points to an important, recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that has evidence suggesting greener spaces not only cut down on carbon and noise pollution, but also, when applied to schools, could boost working memory and cognition among students.

The study consisted of 2,623 schoolchildren in Barcelona. They assessed the vegetation around each child’s home, commute, and school, finding that associations for at-home and greenery surrounding their commute had little effect on a child’s cognition. The vegetation surrounding their school seemed to be the biggest determining factor — even when the researchers adjusted their results to factor in socioeconomic status.

The results showed that, over the course of the year, the children who had more green spaces surrounding their schools had made more progress in working memory and attention.

This paper, combined with the EPA’s recent Environmental Justice map, could help in creating environmental regulations for schools. Gina McCarthy explains that the EPA is charged with setting a stage for solutions rather than taking action themselves, which is just what its pollution map is doing. It’s just up to environmental justice activists to take advantage of it.

Read more at The Atlantic.

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Up Next