Behavioural effects of light intervention in people with Korsakoff Syndrome: A pilot study

Neuropsychol Rehabil. 2022 Aug;32(7):1389-1404. doi: 10.1080/09602011.2021.1890623. Epub 2021 Mar 8.


Korsakoff Syndrome (KS) is commonly associated with behavioural symptoms such as agitation, apathy, and disinhibition. People with KS often reside in long-term care facilities, which reduces their exposure to natural light. Little is known regarding positive effects of light intervention in KS. Our objective was to evaluate the influence of a dawn simulation therapy on behavioural symptoms in KS. 38 patients residing in a 24-hour care facility were exposed for 6 weeks to a dawn simulation system in their bedrooms, which gradually increased from 0 lux to 290 lux. Behavioural symptoms were measured over 9 weeks. Weeks 1-3 consisted of the baseline phase and weeks 3-9 consisted of the light intervention phase. Our study showed that total severity of neuropsychiatric symptoms was less prominent during light intervention. More specifically, a decrease on the apathy, disinhibition, behaviour at night and appetite and eating behaviour subscales was found during the light intervention phase compared to the baseline phase. Additionally, a significant effect was found on decreasing emotional distress for caregivers. Results suggest that light intervention therapy has a positive effect on reducing behavioural symptoms in KS as well as the levels of stress experienced by the patients' caregivers.

Keywords: 24-hour care facility; Dawn simulation; Korsakoff Syndrome; Light intervention; Neuropsychiatric symptoms.

MeSH terms

  • Apathy*
  • Behavioral Symptoms / psychology
  • Caregivers / psychology
  • Humans
  • Korsakoff Syndrome* / psychology
  • Korsakoff Syndrome* / therapy
  • Pilot Projects