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Night Light Depression

December 8, 2010

Dim light at night causes depressive symptoms in rodents.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):
Night-light depression…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.
Modern lighting is so ubiquitous, it’s easy to forget that in the deep past there was no escaping darkness once the sun went down. But our brains haven’t forgotten, according to Tracy Bedrosian, a neuroscientist at Ohio State University.

TRACY BEDROSIAN (Ohio State University):
It’s an unnatural thing we do to ourselves, shining all these lights during the night.

HIRSHON:
She and her colleagues found that hamsters exposed to even very dim light at night were more depressed than those allowed to rest in total darkness.

TRACY BEDROSIAN:
They basically don’t get the same pleasure and enjoyment out of things they used to like.

HIRSHON:
She says the depressed hamsters showed evidence of impairments to the hippocampus, a brain region also known to be involved in depression in humans. She says while hamsters aren’t people, minimizing exposure to all light sources at bedtime might be a good idea. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.