Light enables us to see colour, motion, and fine spatial detail in the environment. But light also has a more profound effect on our physiology, modifying the production of melatonin and changing the timing of our inner clocks. This is mediated by a neuronal pathway connecting the fine layer of light-sensitive cells in the back of our eye with the circadian pacemaker in the hypothalamus. While we know that one class of light-sensitive cells, the melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells, drives these effects, we are interested in characterising how other signals from the canonical photoreceptors – the cones and rods – can also drive these responses. We combine empirical methods employing paradigms from vision sciences and chronobiology with modelling of environmental light.
This project is funded by the Wellcome Trust (“Human sensitivity to short-wavelength light in non-image-forming vision: Toward a mechanistic understanding of the impact of blue light on sleep and circadian rhythms”).
Dr. Manuel Spitschan
PhD student, psychologist
Spitschan, M., Lazar, R., Yetik, E., & Cajochen, C. (2019). No evidence for an S cone contribution to acute neuroendocrine and alerting responses to light. Curr Biol, 29(24), R1297-R1298. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2019.11.031