U.S. Army Researches Effects of Shelter Lighting on Soldier Thinking and Mood

armyResearchers at the Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are investigating the effects of different types of lighting in military shelters on Soldiers. Specifically, members of NSRDEC’s Cognitive Science Team are examining the effect of lighting on mood, or affective state, as well as visual acuity, cognitive alertness/awareness and the ability to perform tasks.

The team is investigating two types of lighting — traditional fluorescent lighting and newer light-emitting diodes, or LED, technologies. The lighting is being studied at varying color temperatures ranging from low color temperatures of yellow/red to high color temperatures of blue/white. Twenty-four human research volunteers, Soldiers between the ages of 18 to 31, participated in the study, which took place at NSRDEC over five consecutive days.

Compared with florescent lighting, the NSRDEC researchers concluded that LED lighting in a work environment seems to foster positive mood, increased alertness, and faster performance on visual perceptual and cognitive tasks. Soldiers working in fluorescent lighting tended to feel less alert, more fatigued and more depressed over time. Under fluorescent lighting, Soldiers showed slower response times on cognitive tasks measuring spatial and verbal memory.

This data has both military and industrial applications and could help designers to create work spaces where lighting improves concentration and mood.

I’m hoping to get a copy of the study, after which I’ll write more about this.


  1. Kent says:

    It will be interesting to examine the specific lamp and ballast data for the fluorescent test lamps as well as the comparative levels and uniformity of the actual illuminaition.
    Hopefully, great care was taken to utilize and document the real world conditions.

  2. Beside the obvious energy reduction (50%-90%), our corporate clients have similar feedback, in facilities where we have installed LED’s.

    Trond Flagstad
    US Facilities Lighting

  3. Dawn De Grazio says:

    I agree with Kent. Since they included several types of CCTs, I am interested in more details than simply a generalized fluorescent vs LED comparison. Were all LEDs better than all fluorescents? I would expect that there was probably a lot of overlap.

  4. Craig DiLouie says:

    So do I! I wrote to NSRDEC asking for a copy of the study but didn’t get a response. They haven’t updated their website in ages. Hopefully, they’ll post the study eventually, and we can see their methodology. Otherwise, their results are interesting but not very meaningful.

  5. J.Smith says:

    A similar study was conducted by them a few years ago. This study also showed the preference to LED compared to fluorescent. In the same study they also tested several different CCT levels, which rendered very interesting, but not surprising results.

  6. Pontus says:

    Let me guess, the lighting manufacturers will be quick to pick this up and use in their sales material?

Leave a Reply