Residential green and blue spaces and working memory in children aged 6–12 years old. Results from the INMA cohort

Mikel Subiza-Pérez*, Gonzalo García-Baquero, Ana Fernández-Somoano, Mónica Guxens, Llucia González, Adonina Tardón, Payam Dadvand, Marisa Estarlich, Montserrat de Castro, Rosemary R.C. McEachan, Jesús Ibarluzea, Nerea Lertxundi

*Corresponding author for this work

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Availability of green and blue spaces in the area of residence has been related to various health outcomes during childhood, including neurodevelopment. Some studies have shown that children living in greener and/or bluer areas score better on cognitive tasks although the evidence is inconsistent. These protective effects are hypothesized to occur in part through reductions in air pollution exposure and odds of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This study analysed the effects of residential green and blue spaces on working memory of children in the Spanish INfancia y Medio Ambiente (INMA) birth cohort and the potential joint mediating role of air pollution and ADHD. The study samples were composed of 1738 six-to eight-year-olds (M = 7.53, SD = 0.68, 49% female) and 1449 ten-to twelve-year-olds (M = 11.18, SD = 0.69, 50% female) living in Asturias, Gipuzkoa, Sabadell or Valencia, Spain. Individual Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) values in 100-, 300- and 500-m buffers and availability of green and blue spaces >5000 m2 in 300-m buffers were calculated using Geographic Information Systems software. Individual NO2 values for the home environment were estimated using ESCAPE's land use regression models. ADHD diagnosis was reported by participants' parents via a questionnaire. Working memory was measured with numbers and colours (in the younger group only) N-back tests (2- and 3-back d’). Mixed-effects models informed of the beneficial effects of NDVI in a 300-m buffer on numerical working memory in the younger sample although the results were not consistent for all d’ scores considered and failed to detect significant effects through the candidate mediators. Availability of major blue spaces did not predict working memory performance. Provision of green spaces may play a role in children's working memory but further research is required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103136
JournalHealth and Place
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2023

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