Neuroscience in Architectural Design in South Africa

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This research paper aims to reveal how the study and science of human behaviour and manipulation, can influence adolescents’ analytical thinking through Interior Design. Studies will be used to explain and detail the human behaviour, especially teenagers, toward an interior space environment by using elements such as colour and shape. The adolescents’ brain, specifically the frontal cortex where cognitive control is situated, will be clearly analysed to investigate how these previously named elements can influence one’s decision making. This will be reviewed in the project background and motivation. The aim and objectives will shortly be explored in this proposal.

Recent studies disclosed that during adolescence the brain reorganises itself (Hagell, Coleman and Brooks, 2013). According to Hagell, Coleman and Brooks (2013), a brain that is more altered to the surrounding environment is the consequence of the changes in anatomy and functioning throughout adolescent years. During this time, teenagers start to learn from their experiences where they become better at assessing risks, moral thinking and controlling their impulses (Hagell, Coleman and Brooks, 2013). This is groundwork for what will be explained in the research scope, limitations and constraints.

Aptitude tests are usually done and displays your skills, abilities or field of knowledge (Investopedia, 2010). Even though these tests are generally reliable in helping adolescents select appropriate careers, there is a percentage of the youth dropping out, changing their field of study or going to University as soon as a personal identity is formed. Adolescents are only starting to form an identity during these years in which their frontal cortex is still developing, by which they decide who and what they want to be. Important emotional development tasks of adolescence comprises of creating a sense of personal identity and self-respect (Hagell, Coleman and Brooks, 2013).

By influencing the environment around them when taking an aptitude test might activate a tendency for the individual to become actualised in what he or she is potentially, thus saving the time and money that would have been spent on other study fields. It will be further discussed under the heading Design scope, limitations and constraints.

The study of Neuroscience and Architecture will be defined in this proposal as well as the research statement. The definition of terms will be attached to this proposal.

As reported by John P Eberhard, “Architectural practise and neuroscience research use our brains and minds in much the same way” (Eberhard, 2013).


The problem that persists, is that from a certain age, it is essential for adolescents to start making decisions in the manner of choosing subjects appropriate for a study direction. The reason behind this study is based on the author’s personal experience. She was unsure of what to study straight out of matric. After working for two years and getting to know herself better she realised what she wanted and recognized herself in the design industry. The author feels that by knowing herself and getting perspective on what she wants she could make a better decision for her future. This was a vital decision as she would have to fund her own studies when changing the study course. This study could help future parents and students to save money and time when reasoning about a study direction. During the authors life she has found a huge interest in the human brain and how it functions and therefore it connects with the project.


The aim of this proposal and research paper is to better familiarise South Africans, especially Architects and Interior Designers, with the concept of Neuroscience in Architectural Design. In this specific paper the author will be looking at Adolescents and how Neuroscience of Design can affect them in a cognitive manner. The end result of this study will be shown in the Design of a Psychological Consultancy Office.


This research paper will be based on books and journals containing information on Neuroscience in Architecture and the sciences of the human brain. Studies of the conscious mental experience and how it can modify the activity in certain areas of the adolescent brain will be researched in detail through internet sources, books and journal articles.


Neuroscience and Interior Design: How Adolescents’ cognitive function and development are susceptible to external stimuli resembling a surrounding environment.


Even though there is a lot of journal articles and decades of research on this topic, there are still a lot of investigation that needs to be done by the experts. Michael Gazzaniga, author of the essay Neuron, said that “…scientists ask how the brain causes human beings to perceive, think, behave, reproduce, eat, drink, and all the rest. Enormous advances have been made toward this goal, and today, the excitement in this field is palpable.” (Gazzaniga, 2008). As reported by Eberhard, Architecture – the design of space and place which delivers a setting for human experience – has a long well-known history. The frontal cortex’ processing of affecting this setting are somewhat understood by architects (Eberhard, 2013). This might constrain the investigation of this research document.


According to Sternberg and Wilson, it is the arranging of multiple distant and nearby cues that impacts the evaluating of certain settings in an environment. This can be used to mark vital spaces within that environment through the joint use of local features and cues (Sternberg and Wilson, 2006). Hollander states that Neuroscience demonstrates how light not only sparks brain reactions through vision, but also has an effect on heart rate (Sussman and Hollander, 2014). “The sensitivity of our suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) to light – driving the circadian rhythms – influences our alertness. The play of light and shadow may trigger the SCN to “play with alertness” in a way that we find stimulating”, explains Eberhard (2013). Because of the fact that there is not a lot of information on the specific design for the adolescent brain, it may limit the design process. This will be further looked at in the first draft of the research paper.


Adolescence: The temporary phase between puberty and maturity in human development (, 2015).

Analytical thinking: Approach to problem solving. (, n.d.)

Frontal cortex: The outer layer of the frontal part of your brain (, 2015).

Cognitive control: Management of cognitive processes such as reasoning, problem solving, and working memory (, n.d.)

Neuroscience: Study field covering the development, function, pathology and chemistry of the nervous system (, 2015).

Conscious mental experience: Visual imagery or mental image. (, n.d.)

BIBLIOGRAPHY, (n.d.).Carter Lab, UC Davis. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015]., (2015) - The world's favorite online English dictionary!. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015].

Eberhard, J. (2009). Applying Neuroscience to Architecture.Neuron, [online] 62(6), pp.753-756. Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015].

Eberhard, J. (2013).Applying Neuroscience to Architecture - [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2015].

El Nasser, H. (2015). Smart buildings: Architects using brain science for design guidance. [Blog]Aljazeera America. Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2015].

Gazzaniga, M. (2008).Neuron 60. 1st ed. pp.412-415.

Hagell, A., Coleman, J. and Brooks, F. (2013).Key Data on Adolescence. 1st ed. London, p.15.

Investopedia, (2010).Aptitude Test Definition | Investopedia. [online] Available at: [Accessed 17 Mar. 2015].

Sternberg, E. and Wilson, M. (2006). Neuroscience and Architecture: Seeking Common Ground.Cell, [online] 127(2), pp.239-242. Available at: [Accessed 18 Mar. 2015].

Sussman, A. and Hollander, J. (2014).Cognitive architecture. Routledge., (n.d.).Dictionary, Encyclopedia and Thesaurus - The Free Dictionary. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Mar. 2015].



The proposed chapter outline for the first draft of the research paper will look as follows:

  • CHAPTER 1: Literature review
  • CHAPTER 2: Research theory
  • CHAPTER 3: Findings supported by research
  • CHAPTER 4: Design development

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