The days are getting shorter in the Northern latitudes. I don’t suffer from Seasonal Affectation Disorder, but I know plenty of people who do.

Which is why I thought this doohickey from Finland (from a start up called Valkee) was so interesting. It works by beaming a specific frequency of light into your brain — not through your eyes, but rather, via your ears!

From the company website (translation may be a bit clumsy):

“A new way to prevent and treat seasonal affective disorder. Reduced exposure to light affects all of us. Symptoms are ranging from mood swings to the more serious seasonal affective disorder. The VALKEE bright light headset increases light exposure easily and effectively by bringing light very close to the brain via the ear canals.

Researchers at the University of Oulu, Finland, have researched bright light headsets since 2008, and are convinced that this is a significant method for the prevention and treatment of seasonal affective disorders and other depression types. Bright light is needed in the brain, not in the eyes

The brain has photosensitive areas that react differently to the lack of light, resulting in depression and mood conditions. These areas can be cured with bright light. Surprisingly our eyes are not the most effective route to deliver light to the brain: the ear canal, where the skull at its thinnest, is the most effective route to direct light to where it is needed.

Its a shame they can’t pump music thru at the same time — even better, have the iPhone into cranking out light into your head.

SAD? There’s an app for that!

Category: Technology, Weekend

Please use the comments to demonstrate your own ignorance, unfamiliarity with empirical data and lack of respect for scientific knowledge. Be sure to create straw men and argue against things I have neither said nor implied. If you could repeat previously discredited memes or steer the conversation into irrelevant, off topic discussions, it would be appreciated. Lastly, kindly forgo all civility in your discourse . . . you are, after all, anonymous.

7 Responses to “Light in Your Ears: Treatment for SAD”

  1. Alex says:

    Ok, I will bite. Has anyone actually proven this works? Because I think someone has been directly exposing their brains to something a bit more intense than some sunshine, if they believe this does not require proof it works.

    Directing light toward a fairly dense and solid object, like your skull, means it will not get through to the brain. That is, unless this is for “air-heads”, which is likely. Even if light did directly reach your brain (drill a hole first! You need that!), do we have even a shred of proof that the brain reacts to direct exposure to light favorably…or at all?

    Maybe I should rub ground statin pills on my chest (its the closest place to my heart!). Or perhaps I should shine some light up my butt, because then I would have a more sunny disposition? Alternately, if I wanted to maintain a “don’t worry, be happy” state of mind, we could replace the light with smoke?

    Please tell me this is a joke and you all are laughing about it. I worry about the kind of things you are planning on buying the family for Christmas.

  2. Mind says:


    From the Link:

    The VALKEE bright light headset has been researched in a series of clinical tests by the University of Oulu. In a recent clinical trial, 25 severely depressed patients were treated with a daily dose of 8-12 minutes of light with the VALKEE bright light headset. Over a period of four weeks nine patient out of ten experienced total relief of symptoms, which is a revolutionary result.

  3. Alex says:

    You take text from the product website to prove this works.

    You are joking, right?

    You know, I bet the MERS website says don’t worry…be happy! So let’s stop talking about that, because if its in text, it has to be the truth. lol…

  4. KJMClark says:

    And they also write, “Currently VALKEE is being studied for seasonal affective disorder in open and placebo-controlled studies. In addition, the research is being conducted for other depression types. ”

    I.e., they’ve done some research, which may or may not be peer-reviewed, which may or may not be published (where’s the link or citation?), on a group of people who may or may not have had SAD (the text Mind included doesn’t say SAD, does it?), and they claim there was a benefit.

    At this point, that sounds like snake oil. And for the low, low price of only $255 plus S&H! It may be a great device, but it sounds like they need to finish those controlled studies on SAD patients first.

  5. constantnormal says:

    I think there are plenty of studies from multiple sources that attest to the beneficial effects of light upon the brain. As to whether it is possible to OD on light, short of sticking a light saber into one’s head, I think not. People are evolved to live in daylight — except for the people of the night that live on Wall Street and drain the life-blood from their victims.

    It does seem like there might be a market for earbuds that emit bright light into the ears.

    I wonder if it is possible to crank up the amount of lumens going into the ears such that one’s eyes would glow in the dark? Now THAT would be a cool way to market the device!

  6. Ramstone says:

    Well it’s definitely intriguing since the current therapy, while effective, is pretty impractical since no-one’s going to stand in front of multi-K lumens for hours each morning, which is the current method to deliver light therapy. OTOH it seems too simple to be true.

  7. Woof says:

    If it works, thank the placbeo effect.

    Stuff about being area where skull is thinnest is just silly.