Neuroscientists to help design hospitals

Nov. 11, 2008 at 5:14 PM

SAN DIEGO, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- A U.S. architectural firm has announced plans to work with neuroscientists to identify healthcare facility designs that promote performance and healing.

HMC Architects of Ontario, Calif., says it will work with a team of neuroscientists from the University of California-San Diego, citing recent studies showing building design, color and lighting affect patient health.

"Neuroscience provides a means for us to measure how the brain, body and building interact," said Eve Edelstein, a UCSD neurophysiologist. "Neuroscience gives us the tools to understand how the engagement of our senses in architectural space influences our emotions, behavior and health itself."

To measure brain responses to simulated building designs, Edelstein is using a virtual reality device called the StarCave, developed by UCSD, and resembling a small Imax theater.

"We've synchronized the technology in the cave so that we can record a person's brain waves at the same time they're moving about in a simulated architectural environment," Edelstein said. "So with this technology, we can test out architectural designs without having to build them. We can test which features work and which features don't work by measuring the influence of architectural features on mental and physical function."

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