Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain region activity when viewing landscapes

I. Chun Tang, Yu Ping Tsai, Ying Ju Lin, Jyh Horng Chen, Chao Hsien Hsieh, Shih Han Hung, William C. Sullivan, Hsing Fen Tang, Chun Yen Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Over the years, the restorative benefits of the natural environment have been taken seriously. These restorative effects continue to be verified in research from both the psychological and physiological perspectives. The latest functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) technology provides an opportunity to further explore the psychophysiological aspects of these benefits from the natural environment. This study aimed to compare the restorative value of four types of landscape environments (urban, mountain, forest, and water) through questionnaires and by investigating the relationship between the different environments and brain region activity by means of fMRI. Based on a one-way analysis of variance, a significant difference was found between the restorative value of the urban and natural environments—the most value being in the water and mountain environments and least in the urban environment. In support of this psychological result, the brain was found to respond similarly, showing increased activity in the visual and attentional focus areas when an urban environment is viewed as opposed to a natural environment. These findings reveal a new approach to test the restorative value of an environment and support the restorative effect of the natural environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)137-144
Number of pages8
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Attention restoration theory
  • Functional magnetic resonance imaging
  • Landscape benefits

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


Dive into the research topics of 'Using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to analyze brain region activity when viewing landscapes'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this