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City Living Can Drain Your Brain Say Neuroscientists

17/11/2010 10:43 | Updated 22 May 2015

Does the commute to your job in the city leave you feeling exhausted? Perhaps you can't think straight after an all-day high-street shopping session? Well that's because city life is hard on the brain, say US neuroscientists.

City living drains your brrainThe constant business of city live can wear out your brain. Photo: Flickr, Schani

The experts, from the Massachusetts General Hospital Laboratory for Neuroscientific Investigation of Meditation, claim living in the city means your brain is bombarded with constant but fleeting stimuli that use up much of its processing power. This can have a negative effect on other brain functions such as memory and attention span, they say.

But it's probably a good thing to have a shorter attention span on a busy city street, argue the scientists, as being distracted for too long by any one thing could get you into trouble. For example, gazing at a pair of fabulous shoes in a shop window while attempting to cross the road could mean you won't notice that car speeding towards you.

The scientists label the brain drain effect as 'directed attention fatigue'. This describes the neurological state that happens when part of your brain gets worn down - that is, the part that's used to concentrate on specific stimuli and to ignore all other distractions. Other symptoms of directed attention fatigue include impatience and forgetfulness - something city dwellers will no doubt identify with.

According to University of Michigan researchers, however, you can refresh your brain by something as simple as walking in the park. Being in a natural setting, they claim, gives your brain chance to rest up and revive.

How do you cope with the pressures of city living?

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