Scientists at Exeter University found that an area of the brain associated with being in a calm, meditative state lit up when people were shown pictures of rural settings, the Independent reported.
However the study, which used an MRI scanner to monitor brain activity, found that images of urban environments resulted in a significant delay in reaction, before a part of the brain involved in processing visual complexity swung into action as the viewer tried to work out what they were seeing.
Dr Ian Frampton said when looking at urban environments the brain is doing a lot of processing because it doesn't know what this environment is.
He said the brain doesn't have an immediate natural response to it, so it has to get busy. Part of the brain that deals with visual complexity lights up: 'What is this that I'm looking at?' Even if you have lived in a city all your life, it seems your brain doesn't quite know what to do with this information and has to do visual processing.
He added saying that rural images produced a "much quieter" response in a "completely different part of the brain". There's much less activity.