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Neuroscience. 2013 Sep 5;247:386-94. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.05.016. Epub 2013 May 18.

Illumination influences working memory: an EEG study.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Gangnam Severance Hospital, Seoul, Republic of Korea.


Illumination conditions appear to influence working efficacy in everyday life. In the present study, we obtained electroencephalogram (EEG) correlates of working-memory load, and investigated how these waveforms are modulated by illumination conditions. We hypothesized that illumination conditions may affect cognitive performance. We designed an EEG study to monitor and record participants' EEG during the Sternberg working memory task under four different illumination conditions. Illumination conditions were generated with a factorial design of two color-temperatures (3000 and 7100 K) by two illuminance levels (150 and 700 lx). During a working memory task, we observed that high illuminance led to significantly lower frontal EEG theta activity than did low illuminance. These differences persisted despite no significant difference in task performance between illumination conditions. We found that the latency of an early event-related potential component, such as N1, was significantly modulated by the illumination condition. The fact that the illumination condition affects brain activity but not behavioral performance suggests that the lighting conditions used in the present study did not influence the performance stage of behavioral processing. Nevertheless, our findings provide objective evidence that illumination conditions modulate brain activity. Further studies are necessary to refine the optimal lighting parameters for facilitating working memory.

Copyright © 2013 IBRO. Published by Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


ACC; ANOVA; EEG; ERP; LED; Sternberg task; analysis of variance; anterior cingulate cortex; color-temperature; electroencephalogram; event-related potential; frontal EEG theta activity; illuminance; light-emitting diode; working memory

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