Neuroscience in Architecture: Understanding the Impact of Spaces on the Brain

Neuroarchitecture, or NeuroScience in Architecture, is a relatively new field that studies physiological responses to architectural spaces. Findings from such studies can assist architects in designing buildings and structures that promote health.

MoBI (Mobile Brain/Body Imaging) is an emerging research technique that can enhance ecological validity in neuro-architectural studies by enabling active exploration of the built environment. Drawing inspiration from ecological psychology’s exploratory approach, this study investigates whether architectural properties and participant embodied physical capacities are complementary.


NeuroArchitecture combines the intersections between architecture and neuroscience into one multi-disciplinary field to better understand their effects on people’s brains and behaviors; additionally it opens doors for designing buildings which promote health and well-being.

Recent architectural neuroscience studies have produced many compelling findings regarding human-environment interactions. One such research showed how transition affordance of different door widths affected participants’ subjective experiences and brain responses – this finding conforms with ecological psychology principles which state that environmental influences are mediated through people’s embodied exploration.

Emerging brain/body imaging methods like MoBI that implement ecological psychology exploration propositions into experimental protocols could overcome some of the limitations associated with stationary brain imaging techniques and improve ecological validity in neuro-architecture research. However, it should be remembered that principles of ecological psychology should not be seen as prescriptions for architectural design as each individual may possess unique biological and cultural differences that must be taken into consideration during design decisions.


Humans’ psychological wellbeing depends on a series of experiences we encounter every day, which may be affected by our environment. NeuroArchitecture research shows that an excellently designed building can stimulate emotions and behaviors such as focus and memory recall as well as relaxation, empathy, and respect.

Studies of Neuroarchitecture reveal how visual sensory information significantly influences architectural experience and brain dynamics, but higher cognitive processes also trigger changes to architecture experience; Kirk et al. has demonstrated this effect when anticipating that a work of art will be perceived aesthetically valued can moderate aesthetic judgments (pp. 16-21).

Longer exposure to physical spaces can have lasting impacts. Therefore, architects and designers should carefully consider the duration and frequency of occupation when creating built environments. With increasing attention on mental health and wellness issues, NeuroArchitecture allows architects to design buildings which promote overall physical as well as psychological wellbeing.


As architecture becomes more health-oriented, understanding our bodies’ physiological reactions to forms and shapes will become ever more critical in creating designs that promote greater well-being. Neuroarchitectural studies offer architects greater insights into how different buildings and environments impact our brains, emotions and overall health.

Integrating neuroscience research into architectural design will bring tremendous advantages to all areas of the built environment. This emerging field offers new ways of creating healthier and more comfortable spaces for everyone.

ANFA is pleased to present an engaging series of talks by leading neuroscientists and architects that explore how our environments impact our behavior, thoughts, emotions, and wellbeing. Furthermore, these discussions will highlight collaboration between these disciplines as a means of further developing and expanding this research.


architects don’t simply consider structural components and materials when designing buildings; they also take into account how spaces will influence people’s behavior and emotions.

Neuroscience provides an indispensable method of investigating the psychological effects of architecture. Scientists can monitor changes to brain activity using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), providing them with insight into which regions respond best to certain stimuli.

Neuroarchitectural studies have explored many topics, such as how the architectural environment influences cognitive perception and emotions. One such study revealed that certain architectural features correlated with increased activity in medial OFC and subcallosal cingulate gyrus areas of the brain; another research project suggested hippocampus involvement in processing aesthetic aspects of architectural designs.

By integrating psychology and architecture, we can gain a better understanding of how spaces influence our thoughts and emotions. Applying this combined knowledge allows us to design environments that promote healthy aging while improving wellbeing.