Researchers discover a pathway that connects light-sensitive cells with brain regions involved in mood and cognition .
BY CORRIE PIKUL
PHOTOGRAPH : GETTY IMAGES / SEVENTY FOUR
From changes in daylight across seasons to artificial lighting in workplaces , it ’ s clear that the quantity and quality of light that a person encounters can significantly impact mood . Now , scientists think they know why .
In a study last year , a team led by Jerome Sanes , PhD , professor of neuroscience at Brown , used functional MRI to reveal how light-intensity signals reach the brain , and how brain structures involved in mood process those signals . They demonstrated that some regions of the cerebral cortex involved in cognitive processing and mood show sensitivity for light intensity .
The discovery has implications for understanding mood problems like seasonal affective disorder and major depressive disorders , as well as how to treat them , Sanes says . continued on p4 J