Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Brain Res. 2013 Nov 13;1538:83-92. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2013.09.031. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Bright illumination reduces parietal EEG alpha activity during a sustained attention task.

Author information

Department of Brain and Cognitive Engineering, Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. Electronic address:


The influence of the illumination condition on our cognitive-performance seems to be more critical in the modern life, wherein, most people work in an office under a specific illumination condition. However, neurophysiological changes in a specific illumination state and their cognitive interpretation still remain unclear. Thereby, in the present study, the effect of different illumination conditions on the same cognitive performance was evaluated particularly by EEG wavelet analyses. During a sustained attention task, we observed that the higher illumination condition yielded significantly lower parietal tonic electroencephalogram (EEG) alpha activity before the presentation of the probe digit and longer reaction times, than that of the other illumination conditions. Although previous studies suggest that lower prestimulus EEG alpha activity is related to higher performance in an upcoming task, the reduced prestimulus alpha activity under higher illumination was associated with delayed reaction times in the present study. Presumably, the higher background illumination condition seems to be too bright for normal attentional processing and distracted participants' attention during a sustained attention task. Such a bottom-up effect by stimulus salience seemed to overwhelm a prestimulus top-down effect reflected in prestimulus alpha power during the bright background condition. This finding might imply a dynamic competition between prestimulus top-down and poststimulus bottom-up processes. Our findings provide compelling evidence that the illumination condition substantially modulates our attentional processing. Further refinement of the illumination parameters and subsequent exploration of cognitive-modulation are necessary to facilitate our cognitive performance.


Alpha activity; Attention; Color–temperature; EEG; Illumination

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free full text
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Support Center