morning window light

YOUR BRAIN NEEDS BRIGHT LIGHT

Dimly lit rooms may limit your cognitive abilities.

Every athlete knows that education is a crucial part of performance. Sport and exercise research, insight from top trainers, science, and technology help you to better understand your body so you can craft a healthier lifestyle, workouts, and recovery plan.

In our daily news series, experts address some of the latest fitness research, nutrition, style, and health stories.


THE SCIENCE
Exposure to different levels of artificial light can cause changes in the brain, according to new research. Moreover, bright light was shown to help improve cognitive function.
EXPERT INSIGHT
Researchers found that when rats were exposed to dim light during the day for a period of four weeks, they lost about 30 percent of the capacity in their hippocampus, which is a part of the brain associated with learning and memory, and did poorly on a spatial task that they had done well on previously. By comparison, another group of rats who were exposed to artificial bright light every day for the same period improved their performance on the spatial test. 

“Sustained exposure to dim light led to a marked reduction in a peptide that maintains healthy connections and neurons in the hippocampus,” explains study author Antonio A. Nunez, Ph.D., professor of psychology and neuroscience at Michigan State University. “It also caused a reduction in dendritic spines, which are the connections that allow neurons to communicate with one another.” And although the study was performed on rats, Nunez believes that the results would also translate to humans because both species are active during the day and dormant at night.  
THE BOTTOM LINE
While further research is needed on type of light and timing, it may be helpful to keep your office well-lit, says Nunez. Additionally, getting sunlight first thing in the morning can also help athletes sleep better.


Photo: Getty Images