Nature stimulates cognitive ability

Participants learn about using outdoor activities for MCST sessions


Its true, nature can stimulate cognitive functions, and we’re spreading the word.

Last month we led a training session for 8 MCST (that’s Maintaining Cognitive Stimulation Therapy) facilitators from Age UK Cornwall.  CST, or ‘Cognitive Stimulation Therapy’, is a pyschosocial treatment for people with mild to moderate dementia and provides peer support to people living with memory loss. Find out more.

The First part of the session involved exploring the impact of nature on our health and wellbeing. This included looking at various theories about how nature supports our health, including ART (Attention Restoration Theory) and how this supports Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, i.e. by immersing ourselves in natural/green environments this allows our cognitive abilities to re-energize and revitalise.

Participants then went on to learn about the four outcomes of a nature based activity session;

MCST chart

The four outcomes of a nature based session


The second session was creative and practical. Beginning with an indoor session of our Weaving Tales activity, demonstrating how you can;

  • Bring nature indoors to people who may not have the mobility or physical stamina to spend much time outdoors
  • Provide a practical and creative session for someone that won’t break the piggy bank

The final session was outside in the local park to get the participants experiencing the four outcomes of a nature-based session. They were given nature palettes to collect various items but also by putting them in this environment they developed their own activities and experiences such as  playing ‘Poo Sticks’. The group walked and talked together and when it came to returning indoors most didn’t want to go back!

If you want to find out more about how nature can stimulate cognitive functions or are interested in taking part in some free training please use the comments box below.


5 thoughts on “Nature stimulates cognitive ability

  1. sjmordue says:

    I think this is wonderful and so simple! (As all the best things are!) Hope you don’t mind but I’ve posted a little of it in my blog and linked to your blog….


  2. Pingback: Nature stimulates cognitive ability [from Creative Activities for Carers] | Dementia Matters

  3. Jimmy O'Donnell says:

    I am in the early stages of setting up a reminiscence project to support older people, particularly those living with dementia. It is mainly about using old objects, music and film to engage the senses; that which can be seen, touched, smelt, heard, tasted and encountered and which therefore stimulates cognitive functioning. I’ve just read this blog and would like to know more. Blackpool is blessed with some great natural environment to explor, not just the beach. I have a pooh stick bridge in mind!!
    Thanks. Jimmy


    • Hi Jimmy,
      Thanks for the comments – your project sounds interesting and similar to what we are trying to achieve. Check out our ever growing library of activity ideas and resources for engaging people with nature through the senses and keep us updated as to how your project is progressing.


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