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LIGHTCAP: Light, Cognition, Attention, Perception

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LIGHTCAP (LIGHTCAP: Light, Cognition, Attention, Perception)

Período documentado: 2020-03-01 hasta 2022-02-28

Cognition, Attention and Perception (CAP) are crucial for professional success, core to educational success, essential to productive, safe and healthy functioning. Yet cognition is hard work, attention is fragile, and perception is selective. Recent research has shown that light directly and indirectly helps CAP, in particular via the activation of a recently discovered photoreceptor in the human eye. Light triggers this photoreceptor, but large-scale migration to cities, increased time spent indoors, and our 24-hour economy have impacted on our light exposure. Disturbance of sleep/wake cycles, fatigue and cognitive failure, mood disorders and even cancer pathologies may be the consequences of ignoring findings on human light processing.

The urgent message is that light can make or break health, social and cognitive functioning. Given the rapid technological developments in light sources (LED, OLED) and the proliferation of intelligent infrastructures (IOT, data science), we are in a crucial period for the realization of truly integrative human-centered lighting.

LIGHTCAP aims to address this challenge by providing a strong, innovative and necessary impulse to our insight in the intricate and complex relationship between light, perception, attention and cognition.

We are an international, interdisciplinary, cross-sectional and translational training program, uniting experts from neurobiology, cognitive neuroscience, chronobiology, psychology and lighting technology. Our young researchers are trained to look beyond the borders of their discipline and understand the implications of their findings for other fields.
After initial phases of literature review and study planning, for most ESRs, data collection has currently started. Our fifteen early stage researchers are each performing urgent and exciting dissertation research, comprising studies on humans as well as rodents, involving both healthy and patient groups (e.g. dementia, chronic sleep disorders), from young to old, with techniques spanning the full range from lab to field research, fMRI and EEG, tasks, tasks, observations, surveys and interviews to ecological momentary assessments with wearables, and are developing new tools for measurements, analysis, simulation and design, which are extremely useful for the lighting domain.

Several of them have already started submitting or even sharing their initial findings at important conferences (e.g. CIE, Lux Europa, SLTBR, Velux). The first publications are being realized. These are available, among others, via our LIGHTCAP project website. There we also present the ESRs, and offer attractive online lectures delivered by and to us in the contexts of the project's training agenda. Moreover, we try to disseminate our work and insights to the general public via participation in outreach events and through social media, so you may meet us and hear about planned events and ongoing research on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

After the many travel restrictions due to covid and hence numerous online meetings, this April we were finally able to organize our first on campus full consortium meeting, with all ESRS, many of their mentors and several of our industrial partners. Not only was this consortium meeting an inspirational education event, and an excellent opportunity to build warm social bonds between us, the meeting also marked the start of more intensive interaction with our partners: The ESRs all mounted the podium and presented their projects and first insights, and Velux, Signify, ARUP, and LightingEurope introduced their organizations and then each presented case studies from the lighting industry perspective that our ESRs worked on. We are looking forward to many more of such interactions with these and all other partners, to exchange ideas, ambitions and findings and to spark new research and design projects and collaborations.
The goal of LIGHTCAP is to prepare the next generation of experts able to deliver on the promise of truly intelligent, integrative, human-centric lighting.

Since the recent breakthrough discovery of a new, non-rod, non-cone, photoreceptor, we are learning that our daily natural and artificial light regime has the potential to both weaken or strengthen CAP, health and wellbeing. In fact, light may be the most obvious and potent and yet most overlooked factor in this respect. Research has shown that light is directly and indirectly impacting human CAP – it enables vision and impacts emotion, it stimulates alertness, attention, vitality, and cognitive performance, it also entrains our biological clock, and regulates sleep, thermoregulation and hormonal processes. Although light almost ubiquitously affects physiology and behaviour, its benefits remain largely underestimated.

Notably, seemingly simple questions such as: What is the right light setting for a given task, at a given age, under a given health condition? Should these settings evolve with time-of-day or with seasons, and should they be adapted to one’s fatigue or sleepiness?) are currently nearly impossible to answer. The overall question LIGHTCAP seeks to answer is: How should light be used to optimize CAP under various circumstances in human individuals?

We are currently targeting these questions through research organized in three work packages.
WP1 aims to unravel the fundamentals of neural anatomy, physiology and psychology of light using advanced technology in basic animal models and in humans;
WP2 aims to establish how timing, duration, intensity, placement, spectrum and directionality of light translate to modulation of CAP in human beings through state-of-the-art in-depth (neuro)psychological, chronobiological and neurophysiological research;
WP3 aims to integrate the understandings of light’s impact on CAP, via visual and non-visual processes, in lighting practice using cutting-edge technologies developed by some of the most innovative industrial actors in the lighting industry;

The urgent message of the lighting field is that lighting is not neutral in terms of human health and performance: light can make or break human health and cognitive functioning. We hope and foresee that this integrative and translational LIGHTCAP research program will add substantially to the field's integral understanding of the multifaceted impact of light on cognition, attention and perception, and, in a broader sense, on human health and wellbeing.
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