More attention-hogging Cities Or stay-calm Villages?

A common sense choice between strolling through a park versus a sprint through downtown traffic was recently studied by scientists to validate what happens in the human brain. Scientists already know that due to its limited ability to stay calm and focused, a brain can become overwhelmed by demands on it for constant attention such as in a noisy environment. When a brain thus fatigues, it tends to be more easily distracted.

Differences in the "Engagement" level of the brain are now more easily measurable by a portable EEG equipment. These portable devices enable a scientist to capture the brain wave as a person walks through a busy street or a wooded park. These captures show that the level of "engagement" in a wooded area leaves enough capacity in a brain to reflect and to contemplate. But the engagement in a busy street demands more direct attention, leading to an arousal in the brain. This is probably why a child with attention deficits performs better in a cognitive test after spending some time in nature.

Only a few government agencies understand the impact on the human brain by the unchecked growth of cities. Even fewer NGOs focus their attention on issues of drastic demographic shifts and the virtues of nurturing native village cultures. If unchecked, the resulting brain fatigue in a majority of human population on the planet, in a decade or two, can create unprecedented mental health issues. Reversing migrations from villages to cities is a crucial policy issue for today. The Backs to the Roots Project has run successful pilots, in a few villages of the state of Andra Pradesh in India, inspiring village youth to be part of the solution to the issue of demographic shift.