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.