In the News: Brain Function Impaired Even After One Alcoholic Drink, Any Amount of Light While Sleeping Increases Depression Risk, The Color of Your Face Reveals Your Emotions

A new study shows that even “just one drink” affects your brain, even if you’re not aware of it. The recently-published study was performed by researchers at San Diego State University on 18 healthy social drinkers. Under one condition, the participants completed a computer-based task after drinking one drink, and under the other condition, they completed the same task after drinking orange juice that acted as a placebo for an alcoholic beverage, while their beta (movement control) and theta (decision-making) brain waves were measured. After just one drink, the decision-making brain waves of those who had had a drink decreased to about half the frequency of those who had ingested orange juice, though these effects were below the conscious level, meaning that the subjects “felt” fine. This study needs a bit more follow-up given the small number of participants, but it does suggest an inhibited driving capability after less alcohol than most people believe will affect them. If you want to cut back on your drinking, try these tips. (MNT)

Even a little light exposure at night has suggested an increased risk of depression. It has been well-documented that light during sleeping hours can interrupt your internal clock that regulates sleeping and waking, leading to poor sleep quality, but a study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology measured the effect of very low levels of light in relation to symptoms of depression. Other variables such as weight, smoking and drinking, income, medication use, and physical ailments were accounted for when they made conclusions. The group of participants who slept with more than 5 lux of light in their bedroom (for scale, 1 lux is the light of a candle, whereas a typically-lit living room is 50 lux) showed a 65 percent higher chance of being depressed. During a time where many people check phones or tablets as they fall asleep, or sleep with the television on all night, making sure that you are in a truly dark environment is an easy way to improve your mental health while you sleep. Learn more about other factors disrupting sleep here. (ABC)

Research shows we communicate emotions with our complexion colors. In fact, this change seems to be even more reliable in guessing someone’s emotions than their actual facial expressions. In 75 percent of cases, the color of someone’s face was enough for participants in a cognitive science study at the Ohio State University to correctly guess their emotions when the color was placed on a face with a fully neutral expression. The patterns of color change for different emotions were almost identical across humans, regardless of gender, base skin color, or ethnicity. What’s more, our inherent adeptness to emotion detection based on color was such that participants could tell that something was “off” if the colors were superimposed on a facial expression that did not match. It is a process we do subconsciously, which explains why we are able to pick up disgust for example, without consciously knowing it is related to a blue-yellow hue around the mouth. (MNT)