Too much time in dimly lit rooms found to decrease brain activity, alter brain structure, compromise memory and learning


A new study published in the journal Hippocampus has found that the lighting in a room affects the structure of the brain and its ability to recall and learn information in a mouse model.

  • The researchers of the study looked at the association of lighting and brain health.
  • In the study, the researchers analyzed the brains of Nile grass rats, which are similar to humans as they are active during the day and sleep at night, after exposing them to dim and bright lights for four weeks.
  • The results showed that the rats exposed to dim light lost approximately 30 percent of capacity in the hippocampus, which is an essential region in the brain that is responsible for learning and memory. These rats also did poorly on a spatial task that they had trained on in the past.
  • On the other hand, the rats exposed to bright light displayed great improvement on the spatial task.
  • However, when the rats that previously exposed to dim light were then exposed to bright light for four weeks after a one month break, they fully regained their brain capacity and showed better performance on the task.
  • Continuous exposure to dim light, according to the researchers, caused great decrease in brain derived neurotrophic factor, a peptide that helps keep healthy connections and neurons in the hippocampus, and in dendritic spines.
  • This study is the first to provide evidence that changes in environmental light result in structural changes in the brain.

Overall, the findings of the study indicate that being exposed to dim light lead to poor learning and memory ability.

Journal Reference:

Joel E. Soler, Alfred J. Robison, Antonio A. Núñez, Lily Yan. LIGHT MODULATES HIPPOCAMPAL FUNCTION AND SPATIAL LEARNING IN A DIURNAL RODENT SPECIES: A STUDY USING MALE NILE GRASS RAT (ARVICANTHIS NILOTICUS). Hippocampus, 2017; 28 (3). DOI: 10.1002/hipo.22822



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