Emotion processing in the brain is influenced by the color of ambient light

Oct 31, 2010

Researchers at the Cyclotron Research Centre (University of Liege), Geneva Center for Neuroscience and Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (University of Geneva), and Surrey Sleep Research Centre (University of Surrey) investigated the immediate effect of light, and of its color composition, on emotion brain processing using functional magnetic resonance imaging. The results of their study show that the colour of light influences the way the brain processes emotional stimuli.

We are all aware that a bright day may lift our mood. However the brain mechanisms involved in such effects of light are largely unknown. Researchers at the Cyclotron Research Centre (University of Liege), Geneva Center for Neuroscience and Swiss Center for Affective Sciences (University of Geneva), and Surrey Sleep Research Centre (University of Surrey) investigated the immediate effect of light, and of its color composition, on emotion brain processing using . The results of their study (in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the USA) show that the colour of light influences the way the brain processes emotional stimuli.

of healthy volunteers was recorded while they listened to “angry voices” and “neutral voices” and were exposed to blue or green light. Blue light not only increased responses to emotional stimuli in the “voice area” of the brain and in the hippocampus, which is important for memory processes, but also led to a tighter interaction between the voice area, the amygdala, which is a key area in emotion regulation, and the hypothalamus, which is essential for biological rhythms regulation by light (see figure). This demonstrates that the functional organisation of the was affected by blue light.

The acute effects of ambient light on emotional processing might differ from its longer-lasting effects on mood, but the present findings in healthy subjects have important implications for our understanding of the mechanisms by which changes in lighting environment could improves mood, not only in mood disorders using light therapy, but also in our day to day life, by paying more attention to our light environment at home and in the work place.

Explore further: How a jab to the ribs jolts the brain into action

More information: “The spectral quality of light modulates emotional brain responses in humans”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, PNAS (2010).

Related Stories

Scientists show that language shapes perception

Feb 26, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Advances in cognitive neuroscience (the science of how the brain works when we think) have shown that what our eyes see and what our brain interprets are two different things. Professor Guillaume Thierry, ...

Can you see the emotions I hear? Study says yes

May 14, 2009

By observing the pattern of activity in the brain, scientists have discovered they can "read" whether a person just heard words spoken in anger, joy, relief, or sadness. The discovery, reported online on May 14th in Current Bi ...

More than meets the eye to staying awake, alert

May 13, 2010

Think twice before falling asleep alongside the glare of your computer and TV screens: exposure to dim light from ordinary room lights, computer screens and other electronic devices late at night may be interfering with our ...

Recommended for you

AAN: phenytoin neuroprotective in optic neuritis

17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Phenytoin appears to be neuroprotective in acute optic neuritis (AON), according to a study scheduled to be presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, held from April ...

How a jab to the ribs jolts the brain into action

22 hours ago

A short jab in the ribs instantly arouses a drowsy colleague during a long and dreary work meeting. A new study by Yale neurobiologists describes just what happens in the brain immediately following that ...

How do we hear time within sound?

Apr 16, 2015

How does our auditory system represent time within a sound? A new study published in PLOS Computational Biology investigates how temporal acoustic patterns can be represented by neural activity within audito ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.