There is no author summary for this article yet. Authors can add summaries to their articles on ScienceOpen to make them more accessible to a non-specialist audience.
Humans are a diurnal species usually exposed to light while engaged in cognitive tasks.
Light not only guides performance on these tasks through vision but also exerts non-visual
effects that are mediated in part by recently discovered retinal ganglion cells maximally
sensitive to blue light. We review recent neuroimaging studies which demonstrate that
the wavelength, duration and intensity of light exposure modulate brain responses
to (non-visual) cognitive tasks. These responses to light are initially observed in
alertness-related subcortical structures (hypothalamus, brainstem, thalamus) and limbic
areas (amygdala and hippocampus), followed by modulations of activity in cortical
areas, which can ultimately affect behaviour. Light emerges as an important modulator
of brain function and cognition.