American researchers have shown that prolonged exposure to low light, imitating the cloudy days of winter or low indoor lighting, decreased the ability to remember and learn in 30%.
Are long weeks of rain and gray, or a poorly lit office, causing consequences for our brains? To answer this question, researchers at Michigan State University in the United States worked with Nile rats, a species that, like humans, live the day and sleep at night. Their results were published in the magazine Hippo-campus.
Less light, less memory
For 4 weeks, these rats were exposed to low-intensity light for 12 hours and then to 12 hours of darkness. As a result of this experiment, scientists observed a 30% decrease in the functioning of the hippo-campus, the cerebral region involved in learning and memory. The rats were no longer able to perform a space task for which they had previously trained. “This can be related to people who do not find their car in a parking lot after spending a few hours in a mall or a cinema,” said Antonio Nunez, professor of psychology and co-author of the study.
The researchers noted a significant reduction in a substance called “neurotic factor”. The latter helps to maintain the connections between the neurons within the hippo-campus. But it is these connections that allow for the maintenance of information. Fortunately, exposure to a higher intensity light for another 4 weeks resulted in a total recovery of brain capacity. Warmly return of the beautiful days!