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Lighting color temperature impacts effort-related cardiovascular response to an auditory short-term memory task

Lasauskaite, R, Richter, M and Cajochen, C (2023) Lighting color temperature impacts effort-related cardiovascular response to an auditory short-term memory task. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 87. ISSN 0272-4944

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Open Access URL: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2023.101976 (Published version)


To better understand the impact of environmental light on processes that underlie cognitive activity, Lasauskaite and Cajochen (2018) recently proposed a theoretical model that predicts how light's correlated color temperature (CCT) affects effort. Here we tested whether the effects of CCT of light on effort-related cardiovascular response also extend to another sensory input—hearing. In two experimental blocks, participants were exposed to either low (2800 K) or high correlated color temperature (6500 K) light with an illumination level of 500 lux for 15 min before and while they performed an auditory n-back task varying in difficulty level (low difficulty/1-back vs. moderate difficulty/2-back). Mental effort was indexed as sympathetic beta-adrenergic impact on the heart, measured via cardiac pre-ejection period and systolic blood pressure. Based on the theoretical model, we hypothesized that light with a high CCT should lead to lower mental effort compared to light with a low CCT in both the low and moderate task difficulty conditions. Moreover, moderate task difficulty should lead to stronger effort compared to an easy task. The results did not show expected differences in invested effort levels between the task difficulty conditions (1-back vs. 2-back task) measured by cardiac pre-ejection period and systolic blood pressure. However, in line with our prediction, the results indicated that higher CCT of light decreased effort during an auditory memory task. Task performance was higher in easy than moderate task difficulty but was not altered by lighting conditions. Furthermore, we found no significant associations between cardiovascular reactivity and changes in mood, sleepiness, light, task, or effort ratings. Taken together, our results provide first evidence that higher CCT of light reduces the amount of effort invested during cognitive tasks for which hearing is needed. Given that this study was conducted under controlled laboratory conditions and with healthy young participants, additional research is needed to demonstrate that our results generalize to real-life applications. Nevertheless, we recommend that lower CCT of light should be avoided in learning and work contexts, as it might lead to higher effort and cardiovascular reactivity that may contribute to the development of cardiovascular health problems. Instead, we recommend higher CCT of light during daytime for wellbeing and health.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Psychology (from Sep 2019)
Publisher: Elsevier
SWORD Depositor: A Symplectic
Date Deposited: 20 Feb 2023 14:31
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2023 14:31
DOI or ID number: 10.1016/j.jenvp.2023.101976
URI: https://researchonline.ljmu.ac.uk/id/eprint/18939
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