Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Kerry E. Jordan


Kerry E. Jordan


Amy L. Odum


Christian Geiser


Scott C. Bates


Brent Chamberlain


Tests of attention restoration theory (ART) consistently support that exposure to restorative environments can replenish finite cognitive resources, needed to focus attention, from a depleted state. These environments are usually natural, but the dimensions of naturalness and restorativeness are not one and the same, and yet have not been empirically delineated. The restorative effect has been documented in children and adults. However, neuroscientists have barely begun to test for neural correlates of ART. In this dissertation, I employ electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrophysiological brain activity during an active visual oddball task to capture and analyze p3 elicitation and late positive potential (LPP) activation, event-related potential (ERP) components. The p3 component is a pronounced, positive-going potential in brain activity occurring in the window between 200 and 600 milliseconds after the onset of a stimulus. Previous research has shown that the amplitude of the p3 potential is attenuated – and latency increased – when task difficulty is high and/or attentional resources are depleted. Conversely, when task demands are low, p3 amplitude is greater without an accompanying increase in latency, suggesting cognitive efficiency. LPP is positive activity from 500 ms or more after stimulus onset until stimulus termination that is associated with stimulus emotional valence. I hypothesized that, in an active discrimination oddball task adults would show increased p3 amplitude for low-frequency target images occurring amidst standard (high-frequency) images of highly restorative environments versus when standard images are of lowly restorative environments or a solid brown tile, and that naturalness would not interact with restorativeness such that targets amidst restorative natural environments elicit p3’s that are no stronger than targets amidst restorative built environments. Results showed p3 amplitude was greater, and latency earlier, for HR standard stimuli, rather than targets, which was unusual for the oddball paradigm but is explained within the framework of ART according to standard stimulus content. Also, LPP activity was only different between one occipital channel and three frontal channels between 600 ms and 1000 ms post stimulus onset, but greater in the nature stimulus group than the built between 1000 ms and 2000 ms post stimulus onset. This finding is consistent with previous research and interpreted to mean that natural stimuli are more pleasant and arousing than built stimuli. Limitations and future directions are also discussed.



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