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Cubicles Can Kill New Brain Cell Growth

Cubicles Can Kill New Brain Cell Growth
Design
Dan Gould
  • 11 september 2008

It’s a truism that most cubicle-farm style offices are boring and monotonous. Row after row of bland fabric and florescent lighting are the perfect formula for efficient soul crushing. But some interesting research shows that not only are boring environments bad for mental health – they can actually stop new brain cell growth.

Creating Passionate Users reports:

Scientists who believed in and studied the idea of “neurogenesis” were dismissed, criticized, ignored. But Princeton’s Elizabeth Gould has picked up the neurogenesis ball and run with it. She is almost single-handedly changing the face of neuroscience and psychology.

From a fascinating article in the new print issue of Seed Magazine (my new favorite):

“Eight years after Gould defied the dogma of her field and proved that the primate brain creates new cells, she has gone on to demonstrate that the structure of the brain is incredibly influenced by one’s surroundings.”

One of the most interesting (and, in hindsight, “doh!”) discoveries was that one of the main reasons researchers kept finding NO evidence of new neuron development in their test primates is because they kept them in an environment which shut that process down. In other words, it was the caged-living that stopped the neurogenesis process. By giving her animals a rich, natural environment, Gould “flipped the switch” back on, allowing their brains to work normally, and sure enough–the happier, more stimulated animals showed a DRAMATIC increase in neurogenesis as well as dendrite density.

One summary:

“Complex surroundings create a complex brain.”

[CPU via Bruce Sterling]

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