As mammals, our internal (circadian) clock is regulated by the patterns of light and dark we experience. But how that information is transmitted from the eye to the biological clock in the brain has been a matter of scientific debate. Scientists had suspected that a molecule called melanopsin, which is found in the retina, plays an important role.
Now researchers at Stanford University and Deltagen Inc. have confirmed that melanopsin does indeed transmit light information from the eye to the part of the brain that controls the internal clock. According to the researchers, melanopsin may be one of several photosensitive receptors that work redundantly to regulate the circadian system.
"This study clarifies the role of melanopsin in setting and maintaining the circadian clock," said Bruce OHara, senior research scientist at Stanford and co-author of the study published in the Dec. 13 issue of the journal Science.
Mark Shwartz | EurekAlert!
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