Bright light effects on body temperature, alertness, EEG and behavior

Physiol Behav. 1991 Sep;50(3):583-8. doi: 10.1016/0031-9384(91)90549-4.


The immediate psychophysiological and behavioral effects of photic stimulation on humans [bright light (BL) of 5K lux or dim light (DL) of 50 lux] were assessed in male subjects (N = 43) under four different conditions. For one condition the same subjects (N = 16) received alternating 90-min blocks of BL and DL during the nighttime h (2300-0800 h) under sustained wakefulness conditions. A second condition was similar to the first except that subjects (N = 8) received photic stimulation during the daytime hours. For the third and fourth conditions different subjects received either continuous BL (N = 10) or continuous DL (N = 9) during the nighttime hours. For the nighttime alternating condition body temperature decreased under DL but either increased or maintained under BL. For the continuous light condition, body temperature dropped sharply across the night under DL but dropped only slightly under BL. Sleepiness was considerably greater under DL than under BL, and the difference became larger as the night progressed. Similarly, alertness, measured by EEG beta activity, was greater under BL, and nighttime performance on behavioral tasks was also generally better. There were no differential effects between BL and DL on any measure during the daytime. These data indicate that light exerts a powerful, immediate effect on physiology and behavior in addition to its powerful influence on circadian organization.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Arousal / radiation effects*
  • Behavior, Animal / radiation effects*
  • Body Temperature / radiation effects*
  • Electroencephalography / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Light*
  • Male
  • Psychomotor Performance / radiation effects
  • Wakefulness / radiation effects