Residential neighborhood greenery and children's cognitive development.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Children who grow up in neighborhoods with more green vegetation show enhanced cognitive development in specific domains over short timespans. However, it is unknown if neighborhood greenery per se is uniquely predictive of children's overall cognitive development measured across many years. The E-Risk Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative 1994-5 birth-cohort of children in Britain (n = 1658 urban and suburban-dwelling participants), was used to test whether residential neighborhood greenery uniquely predicts children's cognitive development across childhood and adolescence. Greenery exposure was assessed from ages 5 to 18 using the satellite imagery-based normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI) in 1-mile buffers around the home. Fluid and crystalized intellectual performance was assessed in the home at ages 5, 12, and 18 using the Wechsler Intelligence Scale, and executive function, working memory, and attention ability were assessed in the home at age 18 using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery. Children living in residences surrounded by more neighborhood greenery scored significantly higher, on average, on IQ measures at all ages. However, the association between greenery and cognitive measures did not hold after accounting for family or neighborhood socioeconomic status. After adjustment for study covariates, child greenery exposure was not a significant predictor of longitudinal increases in IQ across childhood and adolescence or of executive function, working memory, or attention ability at age 18. Children raised in greener neighborhoods exhibit better overall cognitive ability, but the association is likely accounted for by family and neighborhood socioeconomic factors.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Reuben, A; Arseneault, L; Belsky, DW; Caspi, A; Fisher, HL; Houts, RM; Moffitt, TE; Odgers, C

Published Date

  • June 2019

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 230 /

Start / End Page

  • 271 - 279

PubMed ID

  • 31035206

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC6527856

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-5347

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0277-9536

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.socscimed.2019.04.029


  • eng