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 New vaccine production could improve flu shot accuracy
25.07.2017 | Duke University

nachricht Chances to treat childhood dementia
24.07.2017 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Carbon Nanotubes Turn Electrical Current into Light-emitting Quasi-particles

Strong light-matter coupling in these semiconducting tubes may hold the key to electrically pumped lasers

Light-matter quasi-particles can be generated electrically in semiconducting carbon nanotubes. Material scientists and physicists from Heidelberg University...

Im Focus: Flexible proximity sensor creates smart surfaces

Fraunhofer IPA has developed a proximity sensor made from silicone and carbon nanotubes (CNT) which detects objects and determines their position. The materials and printing process used mean that the sensor is extremely flexible, economical and can be used for large surfaces. Industry and research partners can use and further develop this innovation straight away.

At first glance, the proximity sensor appears to be nothing special: a thin, elastic layer of silicone onto which black square surfaces are printed, but these...

Im Focus: 3-D scanning with water

3-D shape acquisition using water displacement as the shape sensor for the reconstruction of complex objects

A global team of computer scientists and engineers have developed an innovative technique that more completely reconstructs challenging 3D objects. An ancient...

Im Focus: Manipulating Electron Spins Without Loss of Information

Physicists have developed a new technique that uses electrical voltages to control the electron spin on a chip. The newly-developed method provides protection from spin decay, meaning that the contained information can be maintained and transmitted over comparatively large distances, as has been demonstrated by a team from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute. The results have been published in Physical Review X.

For several years, researchers have been trying to use the spin of an electron to store and transmit information. The spin of each electron is always coupled...

Im Focus: The proton precisely weighted

What is the mass of a proton? Scientists from Germany and Japan successfully did an important step towards the most exact knowledge of this fundamental constant. By means of precision measurements on a single proton, they could improve the precision by a factor of three and also correct the existing value.

To determine the mass of a single proton still more accurate – a group of physicists led by Klaus Blaum and Sven Sturm of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Closing the Sustainability Circle: Protection of Food with Biobased Materials

21.07.2017 | Event News

»We are bringing Additive Manufacturing to SMEs«

19.07.2017 | Event News

The technology with a feel for feelings

12.07.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

NASA flights gauge summer sea ice melt in the Arctic

25.07.2017 | Earth Sciences

Fungi that evolved to eat wood offer new biomass conversion tool

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

New map may lead to drug development for complex brain disorders, USC researcher says

25.07.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>