Min menu

Pages

Study explains the mystery of what daylight does to the brain!

We know that seasonal changes in the amount of daylight we get can have a significant impact on us - such as seasonal emotional disorder (SAD), for example.    But now, scientists have been able to look at these effects down to the level of neurons in the brain.




 We know that seasonal changes in the amount of daylight we get can have a significant impact on us 

 such as seasonal emotional disorder (SAD), for example.


But now, scientists have been able to look at these effects down to the level of neurons in the brain.


In a new study of mice :

  • neurons in the ultrasonatomic nucleus (SCN) 
  • a 24-hour brain time tracker within the hypothalamus
  • were observed to align with each other to change both in the network
  •  as a whole and in each individual cell to adjust to varying periods of sunshine.


Both combination and expression of major neurotransmitters were changed in response to the amount of light each day.


We already know that shifts in SCN can affect the functioning of the nucleus adjacent to the ventricle (PVN)


  • the brain area also within the hypothalamus that helps to manage stress
  • metabolism, immune system, biological growth and more.
  • Researchers have now discovered a biological connection between sunshine and behaviour.


As neuroscientist Alessandra Borco of UC San Diego puts it:


  1.  "We revealed new molecular adaptations of
  2. the SCN-PVN network in response to the length of 
  3. the day in modifying the function of the hypothalamus and daily behavior."


In both mice and humans, SCN is part of the brain's timekeeping mechanisms and is responsible for biological, physical, mental and behavioral rhythms that follow a 24-hour pattern. SCN is controlled by special light-sensitive cells in the retina, passing information about the light available and the length of each day.


The researchers were able to identify changes in neuromedin S (NMS) neurotransmitters and active intestinal polypeptide in vessels (VIP) in mice, which can then be manipulated to change network activity in PVN.


In other words, we are approaching the ability to manage our reaction to daylight in one way or another.


According to neuroscientist David Dolcis of UC San Diego, "the most exciting new finding in this study is that we have discovered how to purposefully regulate the activity of SCN-specific neurons and successfully trigger the production of dopamine inside the PVN hypothalamic network."


This research is still at an early stage 


 although there are strong similarities between the mouse brain and the human brain, which makes mice suitable for testing, it remainsIt remains to be seen if human neurons behave exactly the same.


But based on previous research, the results have the potential to provide us with new ways to treat neurological disorders using light therapy. The Panel suggests that the mechanism they discovered may also affect our "memory" of the amount of daylight expected as the chapters change.