Good Light & Bad Light for the Brain

Brain health, dopamine levels and light. Wow! This study found that flourescent lighting sources induced neurodegeneration lowering dopamine levels by as much as 30% in the brain of mice while near infrared light was beneficial to the brain and helped it maintain healthy levels of dopamine. Low dopamine is found in Parkinsons and other neurodegenerative diseases. This was with only 3 months of exposure. Powerful insight – “light can be detrimental or beneficial to DA neurons in SN, depending on the source and wavelength.” SHINE WITH THE RIGHT LIGHT
Brain Res. 2017 May 1;1662:87-101. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2017.02.026. Epub 2017 Mar 2.
Fluorescent light induces neurodegeneration in the rodent nigrostriatal system but near infrared LED light does not.


We investigated the effects of continuous artificial light exposure on the mouse substantia nigra (SN). A three month exposure of C57Bl/6J mice to white fluorescent light induced a 30% reduction in dopamine (DA) neurons in SN compared to controls, accompanied by a decrease of DA and its metabolites in the striatum. After six months of exposure, neurodegeneration progressed slightly, but the level of DA returned to the basal level, while the metabolites increased with respect to the control. Three month exposure to near infrared LED light (?710nm) did not alter DA neurons in SN, nor did it decrease DA and its metabolites in the striatum. Furthermore mesencephalic cell viability, as tested by [3H]DA uptake, did not change. Finally, we observed that 710nm LED light, locally conveyed in the rat SN, could modulate the firing activity of extracellular-recorded DA neurons. These data suggest that light can be detrimental or beneficial to DA neurons in SN, depending on the source and wavelength.


Dopamine neuron; Firing pattern; Fluorescent light; LED light; Light pollution; Parkinson’s disease

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