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26 August, 2022

Enlarged interior built environment scale modulates high frequency EEG oscillations

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There is currently no robust method to evaluate how built environment design affects our emotion. Understanding emotion is significant, as it influences cognitive processes, behaviour, and wellbeing, and is linked to the functioning of physiological systems. As mental health problems are becoming more prevalent, and exposure to indoor environments is increasing, it is important we develop rigorous methods to understand whether design elements in our environment affect emotion. This study examines whether the scale of interior built environments modulate neural networks involved in emotion regulation. Using a cave automatic virtual environment and controlling for indoor environmental quality, 66 adults (31 female, aged 18-55) were exposed to context-neutral enclosed indoor room scenes to understand whether built environment scale affected self-report, autonomic nervous system, and central nervous system correlates of emotion. Our results revealed enlarged scale increased electroencephalography (EEG) power in the beta bandwidth. Frontal midline low gamma and high gamma power were also found to increase with enlarged scale, but contrary to our hypothesis, scale did not modulate frontal midline power or lateralization in the theta or alpha bandwidths. We did not detect an effect of scale on autonomic indicators or self-reported emotion. However, we did find increased range in skin conductance response and heart rate variability to the built environment conditions. This study provides a rigorous empirical framework for assessing the environmental impact of a design characteristic on human emotion and suggests that measures of high frequency oscillations may provide a useful marker of the response to built environment.


Bower, I. S., Clark, G. M., Tucker, R., Hill, A. T, Lum, J., Mortimer, M., & Enticott, P. G. (2022). Enlarged interior built environment scale modulates high frequency EEG oscillations. eNeuro.


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