Sky Factory eNews - November 2012

You Asked For It – New Research
Results on Sky Factory Images

Sky Factory sky composition used in neuroscience study at Texas Tech University

This Sky Factory photographic sky composition is one of eight Sky Factory images used in the neuroscience study recently completed at Texas Tech University's Neuroimaging Institute.


Neuroscience Study Points to
Unique Effects of Sky Factory
Photographic Sky Compositions

November 1, 2012 – Texas Tech University's Neuroimaging Institute has partnered with Sky Factory to research the neural effects of Sky Factory's photographic sky compositions. The results from the study surprised researchers and indicate that Sky Factory's photographic sky compositions cause unique neural activations.

Several decades of evidence-based design research indicates access to nature or nature imagery supports healing, reduces stress and anxiety, and reduces the use of pain medications in health care settings. Illusions of nature manufactured by The Sky Factory – notably their Luminous SkyCeilings – have been installed in health care environments around the world to alleviate stress, promote patient relaxation, provide positive distraction and improve the patient experience.

A two-part, blinded, research project, conducted by Texas Tech University, College of Human Sciences' researchers Drs. Debajyoti Pati, Michael O'Boyle and Cherif Amor, is investigating the effects of Sky Factory's photographic sky compositions on brain activation and the effects of their virtual skylights on hospital patients*.

The first study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to generate brain maps of neural activation in healthy subjects when exposed to Sky Factory's SkyCeilings unique photographic sky compositions and compared the brain patterns with those generated by viewing other positive, negative or neutral images.

Unique brain activations of the cerebellum were effects of subjects viewing Sky Factory photographic sky compositions. Image courtesy Texas Tech Neuroimaging Institute.

Initial analysis of the brain maps indicates that the photographic sky compositions shared all of the characteristic neural activations of other positive images, while, additionally, activating several other unique brain regions. Of particular interest to the researchers were the activations found in the cerebellum.

"Brain activation of the cerebellum is often associated with aspects of spatial cognition, in particular the experience of extended space, as well as imagined, or real, motion through that space, said neuroscientist Dr. Michael O'Boyle. He continued, "By way of speculation, it may be that viewing Sky Factory compositions evokes a sense of expansion into or through this extended space."

Dr. Debajyoti Pati said that, "The best expectation out of a relaxation-inducing positive distraction feature is diversion of one's attention and consciousness from the immediate ailment and stressful environment. Neural activations in response to the visual stimulus used in this study suggest that cognitive diversions induced by photographic sky compositions may result in significantly different and higher levels of positive physiological responses as compared to positive images in general."

Sky Factory's founder, Bill Witherspoon, said, "Of particular interest to us is the fact that the Sky Factory sky compositions activate areas of the brain not activated by other positive images. It is the intention of Sky Factory artists to introduce compositional principles and elements into our sky images that insure the necessary visual cues are present to trigger a profound 'relaxation response' – the unique physiological state that corresponds to an expanded awareness and sense of inner peace and stability. We expect that additional research is likely to further link this experience of SkyCeilings to the biophilic engagement that is reported by end-users."

* The second part of the study will compare health data collected from patients staying in hospital rooms with and without Sky Factory Luminous SkyCeilings. This part of the study will conclude in late 2013.

eScape installation at Hartmann Oncology Institute

Notable Installations

Along with several large Luminous SkyCeiling installations in treatment suites, the Hartmann Oncology Institute outside of Paris, France, beautifully installed a Sky Factory eScape digital cinema display in a small sitting area. Read the complete story.

Another noteworthy recent French installation is the waiting area at the Marie Curie Radiotherapy Center in Arras. It is quite easy to imagine from the photos the high level of relief that these large SkyCeiling installations bring to the enclosed interior waiting areas. See the Marie Curie installation.

And lastly, the transformation of a basement level meeting room at the Industrial Medicine Center in Paris. The combination of Luminous Virtual Windows and Luminous SkyCeilings transports occupants to a lovely ground-level place. See the installation at the Industrial Medicine Ceter.

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