Study Reveals Dim Light Changes Brain Structure

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Researchers reveal that spending too much time in dimly lit rooms and offices has a negative effect on the learning and retention ability on an individual, as per a new study published on February 9, 2018.

Researchers conducted a study on Nile grass rats by exposing them to dim and bright light for four weeks. The rodents that were exposed to dim light settings lost around 30 percent of capacity in the hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and memory, and performed poorly on a spatial tasks they had trained on previously.

However, the study showed that those rats, which were exposed to bright light, showed significant improvement on spatial tasks. When the rodents exposed to dim light were exposed to bright light for four weeks, their brain capacity and performance on tasks was found to have recovered fully.

The study showed that light does not directly affect the hippocampus, in fact acts first on other sites within the brain after passing through the eyes. A group of neurons in the hypothalamus of the rodents produced a peptide called orexin, which is known to influence a variety of brain.

The research thus shows that exposure to dim light changes the brain structure of the brain and one’s ability to learn and remember. This project could however, have implications on the elderly and people suffering from glaucoma, retinal degeneration, and cognitive impairments.

“For people with eye disease who don’t receive much light, can we directly manipulate this group of neurons in the brain, bypassing the eye, and provide them with the same benefits of bright light exposure? Another possibility is improving the cognitive function in the aging population and those with neurological disorders. Can we help them recover from the impairment or prevent further decline?” said Yan, the co-author of this study.


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