Lights Out

Don’t even THINK about unplugging my night light! I’ll get scared! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science… saying…

Light can affect our mood for sure. But what exactly happens in our brains when we see light? 

Shai Sabbah and team from University of Pittsburgh wondered. They asked how many areas of the brain are activated, or deactivated, by light?

Twenty people were shown light at four different intensities. Simultaneously, their brain activity was monitored using fMRI’s. 


They found TWENTY-SIX regions of the brain were luxotonic, or affected by light intensity. The prefrontal cortex – involved in decision-making and mood – had the strongest response to luxotonic signals. Its activity DECREASED when light intensity was stronger!

The researchers were the first to show that light suppresses brain activity in the prefrontal cortex! They hope to find more links between light, brain signals, and our moods. 

Hey… who turned off the lights! I’m workin’ here! Now I’ll never finish my novel…


Sabbah, S., Worden, M. S., Laniado, D. D., Berson, D. M., & Sanes, J. N. (2022). Luxotonic signals in human prefrontal cortex as a possible substrate for effects of light on mood and cognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 119(28), e2118192119.