Text: Tommy Govén

05. Mar 2010

The effect of light on learning behaviour

This paper reports the initial findings of a year-long study into the impact of the lit environment on school children. The study is based on a group of four classrooms in a primary school with children aged eight to nine years. Two classrooms served as controls and two classrooms had enhanced lighting. One control and experimental room had daylight from one side only and the other two had daylight from two sides. Initial results have been analysed and the paper presents findings in terms of energy consumption, biological and psychological parameters and measures of academic performance. Keywords of the study: Alertness, Energy, Hormone, Mood, Performance, School

1. Introduction
The school is the workplace for both children and teachers. Lately there has been a discussion about the environment in the school. Signals that children under-perform, behave in a bad manner and are tired have reached responsible departments. One part of the environment is the physical environment and several studies show that physical environmental factors may have an impact on the above mentioned factors. Lighting conditions are considered to be an important part of the physical environment. This report covers the findings of our study from October 2008 till beginning of April 2009. The study is ongoing and full results will be published in due course.

1.1. Background
Correlations may exist between the physical parameters of light and the diverse biological and psycho-physiological effects. Both the intensity, spectral composition, spatial and temporal distribution, may be of relevance. A major step was taken when a study on rats showed that neither rods nor cones were needed to modulate the circadian pacemaker. In-stead retinal ganglion cells with the photo pigment called melanopsin innervating the SCN were found to be intrinsically photosensitive. During the last three years several convincing studies have shown that human circadian rhythms are affected by these retinal ganglion cells also today mentioned as the ‘third receptors’.Due to the fact that more elaborated knowledge about the details of the circadian photoreceptors were established, the research on how specific wavelengths within the light spectrum affected the physiological responses rapidly grew. It has been shown that certain wavelengths have a peak melatonin suppression impact on humans. […]
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The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 70

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