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Study Shows That ‘Dynamic Lighting Systems’ Can Boost Brainpower Of Children

Study Shows That ‘Dynamic Lighting Systems’ Can Boost Brainpower Of Children

Every parent, teacher, or education professional, seems to be concerned with how to make their children happier, more creative, and smarter these days. Research into how the brains of children and adolescents develop is commonplace. The recent research into how the brains of children are affected by the lighting they study and perform under is just one of the latest efforts into understanding.

The Study

Researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea investigated the effect that various forms of lighting can have upon studying skills and general exam performance. They found that one kind of lighting in particular had a significantly positive effect in improving exam performance and memory, as reported in the journal Optics Express.

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The team investigated the effect that having ‘color temperatures’ in the separate lighting conditions has in performance between the two groups. One ‘temperature colour’ was 3500 K (a warm yellow-white colour), while another was a much cooler 6500 K (blue-white, akin to natural sunlight), and another was a standard fluorescent light set up to serve as the control group for the experiment.

The Results

When researchers examined the three test groups, they found that students performed the best in terms of academic performance under the 6500 K lighting condition. However, the 3500 K lighting condition also proved to be useful and helped facilitate the encouragement of relaxation and recess activities, suggesting that dynamic lighting systems could have a multitude of benefits for students. “The preliminary study and the field experiment fully supported a positive effect of 6500 K lighting on academic performance and 3500 K lighting on encouraging recess activities,” Kyungah Choi, a PhD candidate at the institute (as well as the lead author and researcher on the study), reported in a statement.

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Dr Hyeon-Jeong Suk, an associate professor at the university and co-author of the research study, commented that, “We were surprised by the fact that besides observing the performance improvement during the mathematical test, the interview results with young children — who have almost no background knowledge on lighting — were also in line with our empirical results. This shows that the effect of lighting was direct and intuitive and that anyone, regardless of age or level of knowledge, could experience and be aware.”

The Implications

The implications for this study have a significant field of interest – not only for teaching classrooms, but also for offices and other spaces where a boost in concentration could be beneficial, and where the 6500 K lighting condition could be implemented. Alternatively, Suk expanded upon the implications and potential applications of the results of the study, “Although the current research has mainly focused on the educational sector, dynamic lighting, as previously mentioned, can be employed to positively enhance users’ mood, well-being, and their health,”

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The idea of using lighting as a way to enhance and promote positive behaviors ties in strongly to years of previous research indicating that changing the variables inside a subject’s physical environment can bring about positive well-being changes. The most famous example of this is research which found that painting the walls of jail cells and prisons (areas with a higher than average rate of violence) the exact shade of pink that matches Pepto-Bismol, significantly calmed down inmates and cut down on rates of violent activity.

Whether or not this research could be rolled out across a larger scale, or with a larger study remains to be seen, but the implications are positive, particularly in a culture that is extolling the virtues of a healthy physical and emotional well-being. The results also indicate the possibility of boosting brainpower and productivity. As Sun aptly commented, “Lighting, compared to numerous other facility investments to enhance such physical and mental states of humans, is highly effective in a sense that it could produce a dramatic effect with slight change.”

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Last Updated on September 10, 2018

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

Overcoming The Pain Of A Breakup: 3 Suggestions Based On Science

We thought that the expression ‘broken heart’ was just a metaphor, but science is telling us that it is not: breakups and rejections do cause physical pain. When a group of psychologists asked research participants to look at images of their ex-partners who broke up with them, researchers found that the same brain areas that are activated by physical pain are also activated by looking at images of ex-partners. Looking at images of our ex is a painful experience, literally.[1].

Given that the effect of rejections and breakups is the same as the effect of physical pain, scientists have speculated on whether the practices that reduce physical pain could be used to reduce the emotional pain that follows from breakups and rejections. In a study on whether painkillers reduce the emotional pain caused by a breakup, researchers found that painkillers did help. Individuals who took painkillers were better able to deal with their breakup. Tamar Cohen wrote that “A simple dose of paracetamol could help ease the pain of a broken heart.”[2]

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Just like painkillers can be used to ease the pain of a broken heart, other practices that ease physical pain can also be used to ease the pain of rejections and breakups. Three of these scientifically validated practices are presented in this article.

Looking at images of loved ones

While images of ex-partners stimulate the pain neuro-circuitry in our brain, images of loved ones activate a different circuitry. Looking at images of people who care about us increases the release of oxytocin in our body. Oxytocin, or the “cuddle hormone,” is the hormone that our body relies on to induce in us a soothing feeling of tranquility, even when we are under high stress and pain.

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In fact, oxytocin was found to have a crucial role as a mother is giving birth to her baby. Despite the extreme pain that a mother has to endure during delivery, the high level of oxytocin secreted by her body transforms pain into pleasure. Mariem Melainine notes that, “Oxytocin levels are usually at their peak during delivery, which promotes a sense of euphoria in the mother and helps her develop a stronger bond with her baby.”[3]

Whenever you feel tempted to look at images of your ex-partner, log into your Facebook page and start browsing images of your loved ones. As Eva Ritvo, M.D. notes, “Facebook fools our brain into believing that loved ones surround us, which historically was essential to our survival. The human brain, because it evolved thousands of years before photography, fails on many levels to recognize the difference between pictures and people”[4]

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Exercise

Endorphins are neurotransmitters that reduce our perception of pain. When our body is high on endorphins, painful sensations are kept outside of conscious awareness. It was found that exercise causes endorphins to be secreted in the brain and as a result produce a feeling of power, as psychologist Alex Korb noted in his book: “Exercise causes your brain to release endorphins, neurotransmitters that act on your neurons like opiates (such as morphine or Vicodin) by sending a neural signal to reduce pain and provide anxiety relief.”[5] By inhibiting pain from being transmitted to our brain, exercise acts as a powerful antidote to the pain caused by rejections and breakups.

Meditation

Jon Kabat Zinn, a doctor who pioneered the use of mindfulness meditation therapy for patients with chronic pain, has argued that it is not pain itself that is harmful to our mental health, rather, it is the way we react to pain. When we react to pain with irritation, frustration, and self-pity, more pain is generated, and we enter a never ending spiral of painful thoughts and sensations.

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In order to disrupt the domino effect caused by reacting to pain with pain, Kabat Zinn and other proponents of mindfulness meditation therapy have suggested reacting to pain through nonjudgmental contemplation and acceptance. By practicing meditation on a daily basis and getting used to the habit of paying attention to the sensations generated by our body (including the painful ones and by observing these sensations nonjudgmentally and with compassion) our brain develops the habit of reacting to pain with grace and patience.

When you find yourself thinking about a recent breakup or a recent rejection, close your eyes and pay attention to the sensations produced by your body. Take deep breaths and as you are feeling the sensations produced by your body, distance yourself from them, and observe them without judgment and with compassion. If your brain starts wandering and gets distracted, gently bring back your compassionate nonjudgmental attention to your body. Try to do this exercise for one minute and gradually increase its duration.

With consistent practice, nonjudgmental acceptance will become our default reaction to breakups, rejections, and other disappointments that we experience in life. Every rejection and every breakup teaches us great lessons about relationships and about ourselves.

Featured photo credit: condesign via pixabay.com

Reference

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