Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

(Blue) lighting up the human brain at work

28.11.2007
The human brain uses light not just to support vision but also to support alertness and cognitive tasks. Which colours of light are most effective and where in the brain these non-visual effects can be seen was previously not known. Now researchers at the Cyclotron Research Centre at the University of Liege and the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey have ‘shed some novel light’ on these issues by using functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) brain imaging while the participant were engaged on a working memory task.

In a research paper published in PLoS ONE it is reported that it is not just any light that is most effective but rather light of a particular short wavelength (480 nm, i.e. blue light rather than violet or green).

This is in accordance with the hypothesis that such non-visual effects are mediated by a recently discovered ancient photoreceptor which is particularly sensitive to blue light. More importantly maybe, by using very short exposures to light (

The brain areas that responded to blue light exposures included areas in the brain stem and the thalamus. These areas are involved in the regulation of very basic aspects of brain function, such as the regulation of alertness and sleepiness. Other areas that responded to light included the hippocampus and amygdala. These areas are well known to be involved in the regulation of higher functions such as memory and emotion. In summary, these data establish a brain basis for the wide ranging effects of light on how we perform and feel. The data have implications for the development of better artificial light environments and a better understanding of the effects of light on the human brain in general. Dr Gilles Vandewalle, lead author, comments that “it was impressive to see how only a minor difference in wavelength could have such a dramatically different effect on our fMRI results.”

Dr Pierre Maquet, co-senior author, comments that “as a neurologist I am impressed by the wide ranging effects of light on brain function and the range of brain areas that are affected. This is an area that certainly warrants further investigation.”

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, co-senior author remarks, “Humans are day-active animals, and maybe it is after all not so surprising to a biologist that blue light has these profound effects on our brain. After all, natural daylight contains quite a bit of blue light. We had simply forgotten about it because we are so preoccupied by the ‘visual’ effects of light, which are not particularly dependent on blue light. We now know that other aspects of brain function are.’

Stuart Miller | alfa
Further information:
http://www.surrey.ac.uk

More articles from Health and Medicine:

nachricht Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution
09.12.2016 | Veterans Affairs Research Communications

nachricht Oxygen can wake up dormant bacteria for antibiotic attacks
08.12.2016 | Penn State

All articles from Health and Medicine >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>