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Scientists have described how lack of light affects the brain

Ученые рассказали, как недостаток света влияет на мозг Experiments on rats revealed serious consequences of living in twilight.

Lives in the twilight caused the rats to forget the routes and this was reflected in the structure of their nerve cells, scientists think that people dim light is affected the same.

The lack of light a day made laboratory rats to forget familiar routes and this was reflected in the structure of their nerve cells. Scientists from the University of Michigan suspect that people dim light is affected the same way. It is reported online edition of Naked Science.

Rats that spent four weeks in dim lighting, lost an average of 30% of dendritic spines, the membrane of the appendages on the surface processes of neurons capable of forming synaptic connection with other neurons. Along with a decrease in the number of dendritic spines deteriorated cognitive abilities of animals, rats coped worse with puzzles-a maze.

No loss of dendritic spines, no problems with memory were observed in rats, whose cells were illuminated normally.

Lab rats, worked with scientists, like people in a normal routine: they are active by day and sleep at night. Cells of one group of the rats during the month covered by the lamps, the brightness of which was only 30% of the natural daylight, the cells of the other group coverage is fine. Rats that lived in the twilight, one-third decreased activity of the hippocampus – the brain region that plays a key role in the formation of memories. At the same time animals are worse to cope with a maze, the passage of which they were trained before the experiment.

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Returning to life in bright daylight, the rats quickly regained cognitive skills and remembered how to pass the maze. Full rehab took about a month – as much as the rats lived in dim lighting.

This study first shows that changes in illumination can have a serious impact on cognitive ability and even brain structures. If this is true for rats, perhaps this is also true for people. If this is true, then we can talk about a problem in health because of the lack of sunlight suffers almost all of the Earth’s population, especially people who spend most of his life indoors.

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The authors of a study published in the journal Hippocampus, explained that the subdued light in rat cells mimicked conventional lighting of premises in the cloudy winter day in the Midwest USA. Cognitive disorders, which were manifested in rats, Antonio Nunez compares with a sudden loss of memory about the places of people – for example, when the driver loses his car in the Parking lot of the shopping center.

Biochemistry oppression of cognitive functions due to bad light yet to study in detail, however, the authors believe that a certain role can play a neurotrophic factor, a brain peptide that stimulates the growth of neurons and support the functioning of synapses, and orexin – a substance that supports the waking state. Further experiments scientists plan to test whether the introduction of orexin in the brain to compensate for the lack of daylight. If it works, similar methods of compensation could be developed for people with visual impairments who suffer from lack of light even on the sunniest days.

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