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The Brain and Natural Light = Good for Learning?

  1. May 5, 2004 #1
    Umm I hear that some scientist often get together with architects and engineers to discuss the importance about having windows to allow natural sunlight to enter. I heard it was discovered that natural sunlight actually helps in the slow process of creating new brain cells.

    Is anyone familiar with the topic... I really love anything bout the brain but it is such a shame that we know so little about it.
     
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  3. May 6, 2004 #2

    Moonbear

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    I have not heard anything specifically about sunlight being involved in brain cell development...did you just "hear" it somewhere, or is there an article you can point me to about this? I would love to read the article if there is one.

    While I have not heard about a link between sunlight and new cells developing, there is quite a bit of evidence of a beneficial effect of sunlight, particularly in treating seasonal affective disorder, which is an atypical form of depression that occurs in the winter and goes away when spring arrives. Exposure to bright light in the winter is reported to help. This is more common at extreme northern latitudes (well, southern too, but I haven't seen as much about that...depression is a problem for those scientists down in Antarctica over winter), where the day length is shortest (meaning the part of the day with sunlight, not the 24 hour day, which of course is the same regardless of latitude). We also know that there is a good deal of remodeling of neural connections in many animals that is associated with season, but does not require natural sunlight, artificial lighting will do as long as it mimics natural day length changes. This isn't necessarily new cell growth, but changes in the connections among existing cells. Well, actually, in birds, there are seasonal changes in sizes of certain parts of the brain, so there must be new cell growth, but, again, this doesn't require natural sunlight, just semi-natural changes in day length as can be done with timers on artificial lights.

    Though I'm all for the argument that sunlight is beneficial...it's part of the reason I try to find a nice, sunny, warm climate to visit in the winter. Some days I think I should have picked some area of research that requires travelling to the tropics in winter ;-) I get so jealous when I see those reports from people studying tropical fish and they always have some sunny, beautiful beach as the background for their title slide that's the place where they go to do their research.

    But, hey, if there's a connection between sunlight and growth of new brain cells in humans, then I guess I'm glad one entire wall of my office is a window! I like the sunlight, but some days it's really too much, especially when they turn the heat on and my office turns to an oven with the solar heat! I'm sure baking at those temperatures kills whatever brain cells are trying to grow with sunlight...LOL!
     
  4. May 6, 2004 #3

    Evo

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    There is also a reverse disorder to seasonal affective disorder. I hope I can find the article about it, it affects a lot of people, but not much is known about it. I am one of those affected by it. I am affected by light, too much of it is bad for me. I need darkness. Sunlight and bright light distresses me. At work they have had to put special covers over the lights in my office. I'm like a bat. I also need cold temperature. If I get hot, my body temperature does a severe drop. My normal body temperature is usually less than 98 degrees F, sometimes as low as 97.3. I am a freak. :cool: I often jokingly refer to myself as a lizard.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2004
  5. May 6, 2004 #4
    Vampire :P
     
  6. May 6, 2004 #5

    Evo

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    Except for the blood sucking. I don't like the iron aftertaste.
     
  7. May 6, 2004 #6

    ShawnD

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    I have the same problem with light, I hate bright light. When I don't have work or school, my body clock adjusts itself towards night time. I usually stay awake between 7PM and 10AM.
    Where you like cold, I like hot. My room is 9x12x8 and all the stuff running in my room amounts to about 1000W of power which is serious heat. I'm the only person who can actually stand to be in my room for extended periods of time because it's usually around 30C in here (86F).
     
  8. May 6, 2004 #7

    Moonbear

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    Evo, if you can locate more info on that, I'm really curious about it! I don't have any problem with sunlight, though there are days when I'll wake up with a really nasty headache, it will last all day, until sunset, and then just go away. I joke that I'm a vampire because I seem to wake up and feel best at night. I also run a low body temp...around 97.5 or 97.6...but 98.6 is just an average, so I never thought about it other than that if I start to feel really crappy, a shower hot enough to raise my body temp usually solves the problem. Doesn't sound exactly like what you have since I do enjoy basking in the sunlight, but maybe it's related.
     
  9. May 6, 2004 #8

    Evo

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    It's Summer Seasonal Affective Disorder. "There is also a rare reverse form of SAD, known as summer SAD, where symptoms occur each summer and remit in winter." http://counseling.uchicago.edu/vpc/uchicago/sads.html

    There really isn't much written about it as it is so rare and just recently recognized.

    I don't really have the symptoms of SSAD though, I don't get depressed. I cannot tolerate light and heat though. When I was younger I had to be careful in the summer because I wouldn't perspire properly, I would always remain dry. My body temperature drops rapidly and I've always had low blood pressure.

    I've never been able to tolerate bright light. I can see in light too dim for most people.

    Heat above 70 degrees fahrenheit can make me ill if I am inside an enclosed space. I have to keep a fan blowing on me when I am in the office.

    If I am subjected to temperatures above 70 F for prolonged periods, I will break out in red welts on my neck.

    Maybe I am descended from a long line of cave dwellers. :biggrin:
     
  10. May 7, 2004 #9

    Tsu

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    Yes That IS nasty... :tongue:
    That's what I used to try to tell mom!!! :biggrin:
    Then why'd you get so mad and tell on me when I tried to put you under that big rock when we were kids?!?!?! You were such a BRAT! :biggrin:

    Tell ya what, Sis. I'LL go to Sicily and you can head for Alaska! (What's your friend's name again? We'll send you a postcard.) :smile:
     
  11. May 7, 2004 #10

    Evo

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    because lizards don't live UNDER rocks! Especially a 50 LB rock like the one you put me under. OY, I still have a pain from that! (forgotten what little yiddish I know)

    I have to fill you in on him. :biggrin:
     
  12. May 8, 2004 #11

    Tsu

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    Well, they always crawl out from UNDER rocks... I just wanted to put you BACK! And I figuered it was heavy enough that you just might STAY there! But, NOOOO! You crawled out and I was grounded for a WEEK!!

    Antonio, right? :biggrin: Don't worry. We'll try not to have too much fun without you... ( :wink: yeah, right...).
     
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