Massage therapists, the next time you redecorate your session room, think about this: Tranquil images and sounds of nature have a positive effect on brain function, especially compared to images and sounds of man-made environments.

New research from the University of Sheffield in England used functional brain imaging to assess how the environment impacts upon our brain functions, according to a university press release. Researchers examined brain activity when people were presented with images of tranquil beach scenes and non-tranquil motorway scenes.

The findings demonstrated that tranquil environmental scenes containing natural features, such as the sea, cause distinct brain areas to become connected with one another, while man-made environments, such as motorways, disrupt brain connections.

“This work may have implications for the design of more tranquil public spaces and buildings, including hospitals, because it provides a way of measuring the impact of environmental and architectural features on people’s psychological state,” said co-researcher Professor Peter Woodruff.

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