Light and our mood

    Could global dimming affect human behavior and mood?

    A new report in the journal Science states that skies all over the world are dimming due to increases in airborne pollution over the past 30 years. The new study compiles satellite and land-based data on global dimming over a longer period than had previously been available. (Photo: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio)

    Could the decrease in light affect our mood? Maiken Scott reports from WHYY’s Behavioral Health desk:


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    Light is a potent stimulus – in addition to allowing us to see, it penetrates non-visual parts of the brain that regulate behavior and mood. Dr. George Brainard directs Jefferson University’s light research program. He says global dimming may be a concern for the environment, but in terms of light exposure, it is is far less of an issue than some basic facts of life in industrialized nations, like working indoors in artifical light:

    Brainard: It’s not the same levels of light that you would get out of doors and it turns out that it takes a stronger light stimulus to regulate biology and behavior.

    Brainard says 80 percent of Americans work indoors, and the impact of constant exposure to artificial light should be studied more thoroughly. He says scientists suspect a possible connection to increased rates of depression, heart disease and sleep problems.

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