Hey- Can You Turn Those Lights Up Brighter?

We should know by now that factors that aid the health of that 3 lb. organ in our skull are many and varied. Still, sometimes we are surprised at the findings.

Light Level is a Big Deal for Brain Performance

You’ve probably heard, and perhaps used the term “cabin fever”. It usually refers to the need to get outside after a prolonged cold spell. That cold spell could also be accompanied by cloudy, overcast days. Lily Yan, MD, PhD and a team of researchers from Michigan State performed some experiments to evaluate the impact of lower light levels on the brain.

Using test animals, they found that “When the animals were housed in dim light during the day, mimicking the cloudy days or typical indoor lighting, the animals had a ~30% reduction in the dendritic spines, which make the connection between the brain cells, within the hippocampus, a brain region critical for learning and memory.”  (Emphasis mine).

Further comments from Dr. Yan: “Environmental lighting conditions can impact brain functions”.

Here in MA, we’ve had a long stretch of clouds: rain for a few days, then on and off snow for a few days, then back to rain, resulting in lower sunlight levels. Other than inducing lethargy, I didn’t realize that my brain connections were likely shrinking. The clear implication: peak performance means a heathy light level, which includes sufficient lumens and candlepower on overcast days. You might need a new task lamp.


Importantly, long dendritic spines are linked to resilience against Alzheimer’s Disease. (Dendrites extend from neurons in search of connections.)  Link to more here.

In Case You Missed It

Last week we reported a study that regular moderate (read as tiny) consumption of alcohol helped remove the proteins from the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Research was performed at Rochester University and the University of Copenhagen.  Link to more here.


And interesting research from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the UCLA Longevity Center found that curcumin, a substance derived from the spice turmeric, may help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. Turmeric is an ancient spice and a key ingredient in curry. Link to more here

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If you have a friend who would benefit from these brain health tips, please pass this email along.

Always trying to grow bigger brains,

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