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Physiol Behav. 2013 Apr 10;114-115:55-64. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.03.007. Epub 2013 Mar 16.

Cardio-autonomic control and wellbeing due to oscillating color light exposure.

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  • 1HUMAN RESEARCH INSTITUTE for Health Technology and Prevention Research, Weiz, Austria.


We investigated the cardio-autonomic and psychological effects of colored light cycling with the wavelength of ultradian rhythms. In two consecutive experiments, an explorative, longitudinal test followed by a randomized crossover design, 20 healthy subjects each were exposed to oscillating red, green and blue light. Heart rate, heart rate variability (HRV) and subjective wellbeing were measured. Significant effects of the oscillating color light exposure were observed for heart rate and cardio-autonomic control rhythms, derived from HRV (p≤.001). These effects on HRV were replicated in the second experiment in comparison to a similar white light exposure protocol (p≤.05). Vigilance showed improvement over the two weeks (p≤.001) in the longitudinal study. External color light cycling at the wavelength of blood pressure oscillations appears to amplify the endogenous autonomic oscillations. This leads to an optimization of cardio-autonomic control; an effect that was reflected shortly after the onset of the light exposure sessions by the increase of heart rate variability. From the results, we conclude that it takes repeated light exposure session to foster the positive effects on the psychological aspects, as we observed an increase of subjectively perceived mood only in the longitudinal study, not for the crossover design study. The results of our study imply some possible health effects of a color light exposure that is adjusted to 10 s and 1 min oscillations of humans' ultradian rhythms. These novel results show possible applications of oscillating visual inputs to the activation of processes connected to physiological regulation.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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