What are the effects of winter on our brains?

American researchers have shown that prolonged exposure to low light, imitating the cloudy days of winter or low indoor lighting, decreased the ability to remember and learn in 30%.

Are long weeks of rain and gray, or a poorly lit office, causing consequences for our brains? To answer this question, researchers at Michigan State University in the United States worked with Nile rats, a species that, like humans, live the day and sleep at night. Their results were published in the magazine Hippo-campus.

Less light, less memory
For 4 weeks, these rats were exposed to low-intensity light for 12 hours and then to 12 hours of darkness. As a result of this experiment, scientists observed a 30% decrease in the functioning of the hippo-campus, the cerebral region involved in learning and memory. The rats were no longer able to perform a space task for which they had previously trained. “This can be related to people who do not find their car in a parking lot after spending a few hours in a mall or a cinema,” said Antonio Nunez, professor of psychology and co-author of the study.

The researchers noted a significant reduction in a substance called “neurotic factor”. The latter helps to maintain the connections between the neurons within the hippo-campus. But it is these connections that allow for the maintenance of information. Fortunately, exposure to a higher intensity light for another 4 weeks resulted in a total recovery of brain capacity. Warmly return of the beautiful days!

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