Aardvark Daily

New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 24th year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

Content copyright © 1995 - 2018 to Bruce Simpson (aka Aardvark), the logo was kindly created for Aardvark Daily by the folks at

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Are you a dim-bulb?

7 February 2018

The term "dim-bulb" is frequently used to denote someone of lower cerebral performance. A dunce, a person of lower intelligence, someone of sub-average IQ.

After reading a report today, I wonder if this piece of nomenclature was created by someone with amazing insight or whether we've just experienced some incredible coincidence.

What am I talking about?

Well a study conducted by the Michigan State University in the USA indicates that light levels are incredibly important for proper brain function in a way that few had previously considered.

Science Daily carries a story on this report and it makes very interesting reading.

Who would have thought that spending too much time in dim lighting would aversely affect brain function to the levels measured by this study?

Lab rats exposed to lower levels of lighting suffered a 30 percent loss of capacity in the hippocampus region of the brain, a region critical to many cognitive tasks such as learning and memory. This loss resulted in markedly poorer performance in spatial tasks.

Another group of rodents showed performance improvements when exposed to bright light.

The good news is that the negative effects of dim light were fully reversed on subsequent exposure to more lumens.

Perhaps this goes a long way towards explaining why most of us perform better and have a greatly improved mood during the longer, brighter days of summer than in the middle of a dark winter. SAD (Seasonal affective disorder) really is a thing and it would appear that perhaps the study referred to in this article can provide some extra insight.

Another really interesting aspect of the results produced by this study is that the function of the hippocampus is not directly affected by the light itself, but as a side-effect of the light's effect on other regions of the brain. Apparently a peptide called orexin is involved and now scientists plan to do more work to see how this peptide might be used in medicine.

There's also the possibility that this research could provide benefits for those suffering from failing cognitive function due to a number of degenerative and neurological disorders.

So do not be temped to use low-wattage lighting in your house in order to save money because you'll end up so stupid that you think you've done the right thing.

I've always demanded very high light levels in my work areas and as I type this I have a 200W halogen bulb illuminating my desk. I did try lower-output lighting but found it hard to tolerate the gloom of regular bulbs or LEDs.

One also can't help but wonder whether sleeping with the light on may have some (any) effect.

What level of lighting to readers use in their homes and work-areas, particularly during the long nights and dimmer days of winter?

Please visit the sponsor!
Please visit the sponsor!

Have your say in the Aardvark Forums.

PERMALINK to this column

Rank This Aardvark Page


Change Font

Sci-Tech headlines



Beware The Alternative Energy Scammers

The Great "Run Your Car On Water" Scam


Recent Columns

Time, the ultimate creator
No, I haven't been smoking the wacky-baccy or indulging in mind-altering substances (beyond a glass of wine with my dinner) but you might think so after reading today's column...

Peak smartphone?
There was a time when many of us upgraded our PCs every couple of years because the technology was moving at such a fast pace that you'd see a significant improvement in power and performance with each new machine...

BBC resorts to clickbait
Sigh... clickbait and fake news are the stock and trade of the mainstream media these days and it appears that even the (once) almighty BBC are engaged...

A *billion* dollar idea
As I mentioned in my last column, Google has now equipped its Chrome browser with the ability to defeat the worst in aggressive advertising formats on the Web...

Chrome anti-competitive?
Google's Chrome browser now has a feature that will reportedly stop 97 percent of all those really annoying ads from interrupting your browsing experience...

What ever happened to fuel cells?
Electric vehicles are set to become the next big thing...

Can you sense the frustration?
When the current CEO of the South Waikato District Council took up his position several years ago, I invited him to my studio-workshop to discuss how I could help promote the district he now managed...

Is now a good time to wait?
I ran a CPU benchmark on my video rendering machine last night and was gobsmacked at how much slower it is than "state of the art" silicon...

Beyond a joke
Yes, today's column is another of those boring gripes about CAA and drones...

Plastic, a bigger threat than climate change?
A regular reader sent me an email the other day containing a link to a worrying report that everyone should read...

Babies versus boosters, no contest
Yesterday was a fantastic day for any geek, space enthusiast or anyone who has the heart and imagination of a little boy...