Do you feel like you drag a little when the weather is dreary? Turns out the flip-side is true, when the sun is bright our outlook is cheery and our minds are sharper too.
That's according to a new study at Ohio State, where researchers studied mice and their intelligence scores when exposed to 16 hours of light, as though it were summer, and 8 hours of light to mimic winter. In a nutshell, they found the mouse brain gets smaller in the winter, literally. Not only did the size of the brain decrease with less light, so did the quality of brain function.
"These are connections to other neurons. You can see there's a lot of them in the long-day brains. Here in the short-day brains, the animals had a more difficulty in learning and memory. You can see there's much fewer of these connections," says Dr. Randy Nelson at Ohio State University.
More research is needed, but researchers say this indicates the same may well be true in humans. which may explain problems like seasonal affective disorder, where symptoms of depression peak during the winter months.