Jun. 2nd, 2006

OK, I'll admit that I had wondered: why is it that blue light, of all the colors in the rainbow, is what you need to realize that it's morning? See, I had learned that the "cone" cells in the eye -- the ones responsible for color vision -- are tuned to three specific wavelengths; the "blue" cone is most sensitive to 430 nm. But the blue light that works best for resetting the body clock is at 470 nm, more or less -- which happens to be the color of a clear sky.

And why are there blind animals that can use light to maintain their daily clocks?

Turns out that there are other light receptors in the eye besides those I learned about -- that aren't involved in vision! And these receptors are wired not to the visual-processing areas of the brain, but to the part of the brain (the superchiasmatic nucleus) that helps regulate the circadian rhythm.

Read more at http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20060527/bob9.asp

(And if TV is the "flickering blue monster," shouldn't the best shows be on in the mornings?)

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jeneralist

May 2010

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