One of the major determinants of human behavior and health is the built environment. The rapid urbanization of our planet (currently >50% of humanity lives in Cities) means that the human psychology will be under significant pressure.
Research so far has mostly employed traditional metrics, such as questionnaires and observations. We suggest to employ the new cognitive neuroscience tools (see below for heart rate and eye-tracking as some very simple examples; see Methods for other more advanced tools we are using) to better understand human psychology and how it interacts with the environment.
We are also developing an Indoor Spaces Lab (ISL – see below) where we study how human behave in indoor / windowless environments.
In our published research we have discussed some theoretical models explaining how psychological and social factors could affect human behaviour in such spaces. Roberts et al. discusses how we can employ neuroscience to improve these spaces, whereas as Lee et al. addresses how social attitudes and perceived control could affect perception of spaces.
From a neuroscience perspective, the circadian rhythms (see image below) seem to be very critical. Currently, the exact effect of MegaCities on circadian rhythms and by extension productivity and health is less explored. Understanding how the urban space affects human circadian rhythms is a critical question for the future research.
Figure from Roberts, Christopoulos et al., 2015.
Artificial lighting could affect (positively and negatively) behavior, with social-psychological research offering mixed results (see Table below).
(Figure from Lee, Christopoulos et al., 2016)
Neuroscience brings in new methods that could help us address these questions. We are working in adopting these methods to this demanding environment.
The aim is to build Cities and workspaces that are liveable, productive, healthy.