Researchers Find that the Color of Light Affects Body Clock


Researchers have found that the color of light affects the internal clocks of humans and animals.

Researchers from the University of Manchester have discovered that the color of light has an impact on how the internal clock measures time and that animals’ physiology and behavior adjust accordingly.

The experts studied how the internal clock measures changes in light color. According to their research, there are changes in light intensity during sunset and sunrise, and during twilight.

Researchers used different visual stimuli on mice and recorded electrical activity from their brains. They found that the neurons of the brain were much more sensitive to the changes in color between yellow and blue.

“Using environmental measurements, we show here that mammalian blue–yellow color discrimination provides a more reliable method of tracking twilight progression than simply measuring irradiance. We next use electrophysiological recordings to demonstrate that neurons in the mouse suprachiasmatic circadian clock display the cone-dependent spectral opponency required to make use of this information. Thus, our data show that some clock neurons are highly sensitive to changes in spectral composition occurring over twilight and that this input dictates their response to changes in irradiance,” the researchers wrote.

Finally, researchers used mice housed under photoperiods with simulated dawn/dusk transitions, and confirmed that spectral changes occurring during twilight are required for appropriate circadian alignment under natural conditions.

The data revealed a new sensory mechanism for telling the time of day that would be available to any mammalian species capable of chromatic vision.

“This is the first time that we’ve been able to test the theory that color affects our body clock in any mammal. It has always been very hard to separate the change in color to the change in brightness, but using new experimental tools and a psychophysics approach we were successful,” said Dr. Timothy Brown from the Faculty of Life Sciences.

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Nadeem has more than 5 years of experience as a news writer/editor. He started his career as a business news reporter at a Virginia-based financial research firm in 2008. At Morning Ledger, Nadeem is responsible for writing news stories on health and science topics.