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Forest Loss Leads to Spread of Human Disease

Deforestation Human Diseases

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A new Stanford University study published in Landscape Ecology reveals viruses like COVID-19 that jump from animals to people will likely become more common as people continue to transform natural habitats into agricultural land. Researchers found the loss of tropical forests in Uganda put people at greater risk of physical interactions with wild primates and the viruses they carry, with implications for the emergence and spread of infectious animal-to-human diseases in other parts of the world. People have converted nearly half of the world’s land into agriculture. Tropical forests have suffered the most, with some of the highest rates of conversion occurring during the last few decades. Study co-author Tyler McIntosh says, “At the end of the day, land conservation and the reduction of forest fragmentation is our best bet to reduce human [to] wild animal interactions.”
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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