Short Periods of Blue-Light Exposures Can Benefit the Brain in the Long Run

A new study has found brief periods of exposure to blue light could increase subsequent activation in brain regions important to successful working memory performance and improve response times, according to an article by Medscape Multispecialty.

Earlier studies have found exposure to blue light resembles basking under sunlight, which results in increased alertness and better performance on reaction time tasks during exposure, said lead author Anna Alkozei, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Psychiatry, University of Arizona in Tucson.

Their latest study found exposure to 30 minutes of blue light compared to amber light exposure during the same period, led to improved cognitive task performance 40 minutes after the blue-light exposure period ended.

Alkozei published her research at SLEEP 2016: 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.

The sample size of the study included 35 healthy adults (18 female, mean age was 21-years-old) that were randomly exposed to 30 minutes of blue light using the Philips goLITE BLU Energy Light device (λ = 469 nm) or amber (placebo) light, which was followed by a working memory task during functional MRI. The experiment subjects were tested in the morning after a normal night of sleep.

"Individuals who received blue light vs amber light showed greater activation within the dorsolateral and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex during completion of the task, which are brain areas crucial for successful cognitive performance," said Alkozei.

The blue-light exposed group had a faster reaction time of (p=.04), where they were able to respond to questions more accurately per second (P = .01).

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