Light pulses suppress responsiveness within the mouse photic entrainment pathway

A. Khammanivong, D. E. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We have characterized a decrease in photic responsiveness of the mammalian circadian entrainment pathway caused by light stimulation. Phase delays of the running-wheel activity rhythm were used to quantify the photic responsiveness of the circadian system in mice (C57BL/6J). In an initial experiment, the authors measured the responsiveness to single 'saturating' light pulses ('white' fluorescent light; ≃1876 μW; 15 min). In two additional experiments, the authors measured responses to this stimulus at several time points following a saturating pulse at CT 14 or CT 16. Data from these experiments were analyzed in two manners. Experiment 2 was analyzed assuming that the phase of the circadian pacemaker was unchanged by an initial pulse, and Experiment 3 was analyzed assuming that the initial pulse induced an instantaneous phase delay. Results reveal a significant reduction in responsivity to light that persists for at least 2 h and possibly up to 4 h after the initial stimulus. Immediately after the stimulus, the responsiveness of the photic entrainment pathway was reduced to levels ≤ 12% of normal. After 2 h, the responsiveness was ≤ 42% of normal, and by 4 h, responsiveness had recovered to levels that were ≤ 60% of normal (levels not statistically different from controls). By the following circadian cycle, responsiveness was more completely recovered, although the magnitude of some phase delays remained ≤ 85% of normal. These major reductions in the magnitude of phase delays (and phase response curve amplitude) caused by saturating light pulses confound interpretations of two-pulse experiments designed to measure the rate of circadian phase delays. In addition, the time course for this reduced responsiveness may reflect the time course of cellular and molecular events that underlie light-induced resetting of the mammalian circadian pacemaker.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)393-405
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000


  • Activity rhythm
  • Biological clock
  • Circadian
  • Phase shift
  • Rhythm
  • SCN
  • Suprachiasmatic nuclei


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