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Why are places so special? Uncovering how our brain reacts to meaningful places

Gatersleben, Birgitta, Opitz, Bertram, Myers, Andy and Wyles, Kayleigh (2020) Why are places so special? Uncovering how our brain reacts to meaningful places Landscape and Urban Planning.

Gatersleben Opitz Meyer Wyles 2020 special places.pdf - Accepted version Manuscript

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People are drawn toward personally meaningful places. Seeing or remembering those places improves mood and supports wellbeing. But existing evidence relies on self-reports and comparisons with unpleasant places. Using brain imaging techniques, we examined reactions towards images of personally meaningful places, meaningful objects, neutral places and objects, and pre-validated (IAPS) images, among 19 volunteers (10 female) between 19 and 53 years old. A whole brain analysis showed that meaningful places and IAPS images elicited the largest response in the amygdala, associated with the processing of emotion. Similarly high activity was found for the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC),associated with self-referential processing, emotional appraisal, and memory processing. This was not found for meaningful objects or neutral places. The parahippocampal place area (PPA) showed enhanced activity only to personally meaningful places. Personally meaningful places clearly evoke distinctive neurological responses supporting the importance of this holistic and complex concept for human wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences > School of Psychology
Authors :
Myers, Andy
Date : 19 January 2020
Uncontrolled Keywords : Place attachment, environment, meaningful possessions, spatial processing, fMRI.
Depositing User : James Marshall
Date Deposited : 31 Jan 2020 16:06
Last Modified : 31 Jan 2020 16:06

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