Blue Light Exposure Can Have Lasting Effect on Cognitive Function

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Dr. Anna Alkozei

Dr. Anna Alkozei

Anna Alkozei, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
SCAN Lab, Psychiatry Department
University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ 85724-5002

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Alkozei: We know that exposure to blue wavelength light, which is similar to the kind of light that we get on a bright sunny day, can improve attention and alertness during the day as well as at night. We wanted to extend previous findings by investigating whether blue light exposure can affect cognitive functioning after the blue light exposure period had already ended. We found that thirty minutes of exposure to blue wavelength light during the day, in comparison to an amber light exposure led to subsequently faster reaction times on a cognitive task forty minutes after the light exposure had already ended. Participants who were exposed to blue light also showed more efficient responding, which means they answered more items correctly per second, than individuals who were exposed to amber placebo light. Finally, we also found that individuals who were exposed to blue light showed greater activation within the prefrontal cortex when performing the task, an area necessary for optimal cognitive performance, than individuals who were exposed to amber light.

MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?

Dr. Alkozei: While previous studies have shown that blue light exposure can affect attention and alertness during the period of exposure, our findings add to this research by showing that the effects of blue light exposure can have a lasting effect on brain function and performance on cognitive tasks over half an hour after the light exposure had ended. In addition, we found that while blue light exposure led to faster response times, individuals did not sacrifice accuracy for speed. This means, we might be able to use blue light in order to increase our alertness before having to engage in cognitive processes that require quick and accurate decision-making, such as testing or interview situations. Blue light has recently also been used in situations where natural sunlight does not exist, such as the International Space Station.

MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Alkozei:  Future studies need to investigate in greater detail the amount of blue light exposure necessary or sufficient to produce lasting effects on brain function and performance, and for how long after the exposure period these beneficial effects may last. In addition, it should be considered whether learning a task during a blue light versus a non-blue light exposure may improve performance on that task at a later time point.

MedicalResearch.com: Thank you for your contribution to the MedicalResearch.com community.

Citation:

Exposure to Blue Wavelength Light is Associated with Increased Dorsolateral Prefrontal Cortex Responses, and Increases in Response times During a Working Memory Task.
SLEEP 2016
Abstract ID: 0072
Presentation Date: (Poster) Sunday, June 12 and (Oral) Wednesday, June 15

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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