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Looking at buildings can actually give people headaches. Here's why

September 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Research has found that looking at urban landscapes may actually give you a headache.

Urban scenes break the rule of nature: they tend to feature regular, repetitive patterns, due to the common use of design features such as windows, staircases and railings.

Because the repetitive patterns of urban architecture break the rule of nature, it is more difficult for the human brain to process them efficiently.

We came to these conclusions by measuring the efficiency with which the brain processes images of natural and urban scenes.

Both models show that when the brain processes images that depart from the rule of nature, the activity of the nerve cells is increased, and becomes less sparsely distributed.

After running the program, we found that departure from the rule of nature predicts how uncomfortable people find it to look at any given image -- whether it's an image of a building or a work of art.

We then analyzed images of apartment buildings, and found that over the last 100 years, the design of buildings has been departing further and further from the rule of nature; more and more stripes appear decade by decade, making the buildings less and less comfortable to look at.

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