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Spending long hours in dim light may affect learning ability

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Dim light learning
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New York, Feb 6: Do you use dim lights at home? If yes, then you should stop doing it as researchers have found that too much dim light in our surrounding might impair learning ability.

According to the researchers, spending too much time in dimly lit rooms might change the brain’s structure and hurt one’s ability to remember and learn.

For the study, published in the journal Hippocampus, researchers studied the brains of Nile grass rats — which, like humans, are diurnal and sleep at night — after exposing them to dim and bright light for four weeks.

The rodents exposed to dim light lost about 30 per cent of capacity in the hippocampus, a critical brain region for learning and memory and performed poorly on a spatial task they had trained on previously.

“When we exposed the rats to dim light, mimicking the cloudy days of Midwestern winters or typical indoor lighting, the animals showed impairments in spatial learning,” said Antonio “Tony” Nunez, Professor at Michigan State University in the US.

The study is the first to show that changes in environmental light, in a range normally experienced by humans, leads to structural changes in the brain, the researchers said.

The researchers mentioned that sustained exposure to dim light led to significant reductions in a substance called brain derived neurotrophic factor — a peptide that helps maintain healthy connections and neurons in the hippocampus — and in dendritic spines, or the connections that allow neurons to “talk” to one another.

“Since there are fewer connections being made, this results in diminished learning and memory performance that is dependent upon the hippocampus. In other words, dim lights are producing dimwits,” said Joel Soler, lead author of the study.

IANS

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Number of Zika virus cases reaches 100 in Jaipur

A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.

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Zika virus

Jaipur, Oct 18 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus has gone up to 100 in Jaipur, officials said on Thursday.

State Chief Secretary D.B. Gupta held a review meeting and directed the officials to carry out anti-larvae activities in educational institutions and administrative buildings in Jaipur.

Veenu Gupta, Chief Secretary (Medicine and Health) said, “Medical teams in Jaipur are carrying out screening and fogging activities. A total of 1,11,825 houses have been screened. Special precautions are being taken in the Zika-affected areas.”

She said that there was no shortage of medicines at health centres. She also directed district officials to monitor the regular availability of medicines and testing equipment in hospitals.

Gupta directed officials to take measures to prevent breeding of mosquitoes in the Rajasthan Police Academy, Police Line and the RAC Battalion.

She asked the Army officials to check the spread of mosquitoes and larvae in their area.

Gupta instructed officials to pay special attention to tourist places such as Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar and Albert Hall.

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Zika virus cases reach 72 in Jaipur

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Zika Virus

Jaipur, Oct 15 : The number of people infected with the Zika virus rose to 72 in Jaipur, officials from the health department said on Monday.

The number of people carrying the virus was put out after a review meeting chaired by Additional Chief secretary (Health) Veenu Gupta.

The officials informed that 280 teams were surveying the affected areas by visiting each and every house. Around 96,000 houses had been surveyed till date.

Since Sunday, the health department has started issuing challans against owners of houses where larvae of the mosquito that transmits the virus were found.

The virus is transmitted through the Aedes Aegypti Mosquito. It causes fever, skin rashes, conjunctivitis, and muscle and joint pain. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women, as it can lead to microcephaly, a condition in which a baby’s head is significantly smaller than expected upon birth.

Till Monday evening, 68 such challans were issued and penalties of Rs 44,000 were imposed.

Screening and anti-larvae measures are continuing in the capital city. The samples are also being collected from those suffering from fever, the officials said.

The people in the affected areas are being advised to temporarily suspend water storage, and the same is being supplied via tankers.

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Internet obsession among adolescents leading to mental disorder: Experts

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Spending excessive time over internet and social media is emerging as a leading cause for mental disorder among adolescents and youths, say medical experts.

“It is seen that youths and teenagers are getting obsessed with mobile phones and computers. They spend most of time either playing games and chatting over social media and get away from the real world,” RK Chadda, HOD Psychiatry and Chief National Drug Dependence Treatment Centre (NDDTC).

According to Dr Rachna Bhargava, Associate Professor, Psychiatry and NDDTC AIIMS, excessive time spent over virtual world is forces youths to remain secluded from reality.

“Individuals develop an imaginary world and tend to confine themselves within that. Youths, especially boys aged between 14-25, have been observed to be more prone to mental disorder,” Bhargava added.

Among early symptoms it is found that a child tends to stop interacting or mingling with other children and creates a distance from family members.

“If a device is being forcefully taken away from a child, it is seen that he or she tends to lose temper and even misbehaves,” Dr Anju Dhawan, NDDTC stated.

Dr Pratap Saran, Psychiatry, AIIMS pointed that the primary reason behind youths falling prey to mobile games or social media addiction is because of lack of parental supervision.

“It is often seen that the parents remain engulfed in their own daily routine work and ignores the child. At times even the parents also fails to understand or realise that a child is developing mental disorder and it further escalates the syndrome,” Dr Saran added.

However, most mental disorder cases remain unattended. Dr Bhargava said the reason behind is that neither the patients nor anyone from their families come up and talk about it to medical experts.

“Most people do not even realise that they are facing mental disorder. Many think it is a stigma to attend a psychiatrist and hesitate to report or talk about the issues. There is quite a gap between psychiatrists and mental disorder patients,” she said.

According to the experts, mental disorder owing to social media and mobile games can be avoided if parents start early supervision.

“The addiction cannot be measured in a particular time frame. It can develop after using even for 3-4 hours of more than 6 hours. It is very important that parents should take their child for outdoor activities, that will help them to keep in pace with the real world,” Dr Chadda mentioned.

The recently concluded National Mental Health Survey of India estimates current prevalence of mental disorders in the age group 18-29 at 7.39 per cent and lifetime prevalence at 9.54 per cent.

AIIMS also organised an event to promote awareness of mental health issues affecting the young people on the occasion of World Mental Health Day which is marked on October 10 every year.

(Somrita Ghosh can be contacted at [email protected])

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