Scientists have uncovered the mystery of what exactly daylight does to our brain. It is well known that changing the amount of daylight we receive can trigger seasonal affective disorder.
A study in mice found that neurons residing in the suprachiasmatic nucleus coordinated with each other depending on the length of the daylight. Changes were noted both in the cells and in the neural network. The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a temporary counter inside the hypothalamus, ticking all day. The number and severity of key neurotransmitters varied depending on the light level on a daily basis.
It is already known that shifts in SCN can affect the work of the paraventricular nucleus or the area of the brain inside the hypothalamus, which helps to cope with stress, metabolism, the immune system, biological growth and many others. Now researchers have established a molecular link between daylight and our behavior. In both mice and humans, SCN is a part of the brain’s timing mechanisms responsible for physical, mental, and behavioral circadian rhythms in a 24-hour pattern.
The researchers were able to identify changes in neurotransmitter S (NTS) and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) in mice, which could then be manipulated to change network activity. Science has come close to allowing a person to control his reaction to more or less light.