LED lighting technology can enhance our efficiency, improve our mood and serve in rehabilitative therapy.
Ever been at the office and you could just not switch on? You’re sitting at your computer and you find yourself unable to concentrate on the task at hand? Well, recent research out of the USA suggests that lights in the office could be effecting the cognitive ability of employees. This would suggest that using cooler LED lights could potentially improve efficiency and everyone’s mood in the work place.
While LEDs are recognised for lasting longer and using less power than conventional fluorescents, it turns out that LED lighting can also hold benefits for cognition and mood as well as enabling life-science-centric applications.
As mentioned before in our CRI article, LED light’s ability to illuminate objects more naturally can influence our mood at the super market. But now there is research from the U.S.A that suggests LEDs may significantly improve our cognitive function.
Additionally, a medical journal has documented how LED lighting can enhance the rehabilitation process for patients that suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI). This is not a magic trick, through pure medicinal science we have discovered that LEDs have therapeutic benefits for our brains.
Research done by the Soldier Research Development and Engineering Center and Tufts University in the U.S compared the effects of different types of light on perception, cognition, and mood in military personnel. The researchers found evidence that LED lights provide a cognitive advantage over fluorescent lights, potentially leading to a better mood and higher efficiency in the workplace. The cognitive Science Team which conducted the research suggest there is strong theoretical support that the stimulation and positive moods shown at higher colour temperatures will translate into enhanced cognitive performance.
The researchers investigated the effects of different colour temperature on cognition. Colour temperature is typically described in units of absolute temperature, or Kelvin. Generally, lower colour temperatures (≤3000 K) are yellowish-red and are usually referred to as ‘warmer’ colours, whereas higher colour temperatures (≥4000 K) are a bluish-white and referred to as ‘cooler’ colours. Four lights were used in the study; a fluorescent light was the ‘warmest’ with a colour temperature at 3345 K, and three LEDs were the coolest ranging from 4174 K, 5448 K and 6029 K.
Participants of the research were made to visit a tent which was illuminated by one of the four temperature lights on five separate days. During each visit participants began a series of visual, cognitive and mood tests that lasted for 90 minutes. At the beginning and end of each experimental session, participants completed a self-report measure on their mood at the time. What they discovered was that participants worked better on cognitive tasks when under LEDs compared to fluorescent lights.
On top of this, participants reported feeling less fatigued and more alert with higher colour temperature lights. Analysis on the findings found that lighting directly influences mood, which effects cognitive task performance. In other words, participants under the highest colour temperature LED light reported the fastest cognitive performance and most positive mood. This would suggest that using cooler LED lights could potentially improve efficiency and everyone’s mood in the work place.
So next time your boss is riding your back, maybe suggest a change of lighting.
Light Therapy for Brain Treatment
The experimental treatment is called transcranial, light-emitting diode (LEDs) therapy, which uses groups of LEDs mounted inside a helmet. The helmet is worn on the head, and the LEDs shine painless light on the sides, middle and front of the head through the scalp – and it would appear that this therapy can help patients recover from traumatic brain injuries.
Two patients suffering from long-term cognitive impairments caused by TBI underwent four months of nightly treatment with LED lighting. After the treatment period, both patients showed signs of improvement in cognitive ability. In addition, the patient’s improvements regressed when the LED light therapy was discontinued. This would strongly suggest that the cognitive improvements were directly related to the LED lighting.
The findings from these two patients will provide a basis for future therapeutic light therapy, which will also have major ramifications for, PTSD, acute stroke patients and major depression cases. In particular, with the increase of non-fatal traumatic wounds and degenerative disorders such as dementias in our aging population, restoring neurological function through therapy has never been more important. It would seem that as further research is conducted LEDs will play a pivotal role rehabilitative therapy.