Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience

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Neural Bases on Cognitive Aspect of Landscape Evaluation: A Study Using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

Akitoshi Seiyama*, Keijiro Yamada, Kaori Osaki, Ryusuke Nakai, Junya Matsumoto and Akiko Yoshimura

Background: When developing social infrastructures, people look towards urban planning to promote a comfortable and healthy daily life. Urbanization is hypothesised to lead to various mental disorders. Further, urban upbringing and city living are reported to have dissociable effects on social evaluative stress processing. This necessitates the evaluation of the medical impact of the appearance of cityscapes. However, the neural processes for cityscape perception are still unknown. Methods and Findings: Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we show that two kinds of landscape pictures, Japanese traditional architecture/ nature images (JTANs) and modern cityscapes (MCs), have distinct effects on human brain activation. While participants viewed pictures of the above-mentioned landscapes, their brain activity was more prominent in the dorsal than the ventral visual pathway, and activation in the right precuneus was evident during the viewing of the JTAN pictures. Moreover, the cerebellum and hippocampus were activated during the viewing of unpleasant MC pictures. Conclusion: Our results suggest that the dorsal pathway and the right precuneus play important roles in scenery evaluation, while the ventral pathway and the left lingual gyrus are involved in unpleasant emotion generation.