CNLM Colloquium UCI Spotlight Series

Exploring morning light therapy as a novel treatment for traumatic stress

Alyson Zalta Headshot

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022
11:00 am - 12:00 pm PDT
Herklotz Conference Center*

Alyson Zalta, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Psychological Science
School of Social Ecology

The CNLM Colloquium Series showcases the latest in learning and memory research. This year, the series will feature the CNLM Faculty Fellows at UCI. Each talk will be held in person at the Herklotz Conference Facility in the CNLM and broadcast widely via zoom to reach our colleagues around the world. Zoom link will be emailed the morning of the event. Find out more about the series by visiting:

Event Description

Trauma contributes to a wide variety of mental health problems including posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, substance use, and suicidality. Although front-line psychotherapies and pharmacotherapies exist for traumatic stress, evidence suggests that many individuals fail to receive treatment, remain symptomatic despite treatment, or drop out of treatment before its conclusion. Uptake of these treatments is poor for several reasons including stigma, avoidance, unpleasant side effects, and poor accessibility. New treatments are needed for traumatic stress that can overcome these critical barriers to care while targeting the underlying biological mechanisms of the pathology. Morning light treatment has good potential as a novel non-invasive, low risk, scalable treatment for traumatic stress. Evidence suggests that morning light may improve traumatic stress by reducing reactivity in the amygdala, a brain region implicated in the pathophysiology of PTSD and anatomically linked to circadian photoreceptors in the eye. This seminar will describe the results of a randomized pilot trial that provides initial proof-of-concept that light treatment can improve traumatic stress and preliminary results from an ongoing randomized clinical trial aimed at evaluating the brain mechanisms underlying morning light therapy for traumatic stress.