Emotion and architectural environments : a case for Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in assessing emotional responses to spatial environments
Lindquist, Marissa, Williams, Anthony, & Oloyede, Adekunle (2014) Emotion and architectural environments : a case for Functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) in assessing emotional responses to spatial environments. In Flinn, Peter & Batten, Graham (Eds.) 16th Australian Near Infrared Spectroscopy Group Conference, 4-7 May 2014, Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia. (Unpublished)
Collaboration between neuroscience and architecture is emerging as a key field of research as demonstrated in recent times by development of the Academy of Neuroscience for Architecture (ANFA) and other societies. Neurological enquiry of affect and spatial experience from a design perspective remains in many instances unchartered. Research using portable near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRs) - an emerging non-invasive neuro-imaging device, is proving convincing in its ability to detect emotional responses to visual, spatio-auditory and task based stimuli. This innovation provides a firm basis to potentially track cortical activity in the appraisal of architectural environments.
Additionally, recent neurological studies have sought to explore the manifold sensory abilities of the visually impaired to better understand spatial perception in general. Key studies reveal that early blind participants perform as well as sighted due to higher auditory and somato-sensory spatial acuity. Studies also report pleasant and unpleasant emotional responses within certain interior environments revealing a deeper perceptual sensitivity than would be expected. Comparative fNIRS studies between the sighted and blind concerning spatial experience has the potential to provide greater understanding of emotional responses to architectural environments.
Supported by contemporary theories of architectural aesthetics, this paper presents a case for the use of portable fNIRS imaging in the assessment of emotional responses to spatial environments experienced by both blind and sighted. The aim of the paper is to outline the implications of fNIRS upon spatial research and practice within the field of architecture and points to a potential taxonomy of particular formations of space and affect.
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