Natural environments, including green spaces, may have beneficial impacts on brain development. However, longitudinal evidence of an association between long-term exposure to green spaces and cognitive development (including attention) in children is limited.
We evaluated the association between lifelong residential exposure to green space and attention during preschool and early primary school years.
This longitudinal study was based on data from two well-established population-based birth cohorts in Spain. We assessed lifelong exposure to residential surrounding greenness and tree cover as the average of satellite-based normalized difference vegetation index and vegetation continuous fields, respectively, surrounding the child’s residential addresses at birth, 4-5 y, and 7 y. Attention was characterized using two computer-based tests: Conners’ Kiddie Continuous Performance Test (K-CPT) at 4-5 y (n=888) and Attentional Network Task (ANT) at 7 y (n=987). We used adjusted mixed effects models with cohort random effects to estimate associations between exposure to greenness and attention at ages 4-5 and 7 y.
Higher lifelong residential surrounding greenness was associated with fewer K-CPT omission errors and lower K-CPT hit reaction time-standard error (HRT-SE) at 4-5 y and lower ANT HRT-SE at 7 y, consistent with better attention. This exposure was not associated with K-CPT commission errors or with ANT omission or commission errors. Associations with residential surrounding tree cover also were close to the null, or were negative (for ANT HRT-SE) but not statistically significant.
Exposure to residential surrounding greenness was associated with better scores on tests of attention at 4-5 y and 7 y of age in our longitudinal cohort. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP694.
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