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Cell. 2018 Sep 20;175(1):71-84.e18. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.004. Epub 2018 Aug 30.

Light Affects Mood and Learning through Distinct Retina-Brain Pathways.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. Electronic address: diego.fernandez@nih.gov.
2
Department of Neuroscience, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
3
Department of Neuroscience, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.
4
Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA.
5
Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742, USA.
6
Department of Biology, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21218, USA. Electronic address: samer.hattar@nih.gov.

Abstract

Light exerts a range of powerful biological effects beyond image vision, including mood and learning regulation. While the source of photic information affecting mood and cognitive functions is well established, viz. intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), the central mediators are unknown. Here, we reveal that the direct effects of light on learning and mood utilize distinct ipRGC output streams. ipRGCs that project to the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) mediate the effects of light on learning, independently of the SCN's pacemaker function. Mood regulation by light, on the other hand, requires an SCN-independent pathway linking ipRGCs to a previously unrecognized thalamic region, termed perihabenular nucleus (PHb). The PHb is integrated in a distinctive circuitry with mood-regulating centers and is both necessary and sufficient for driving the effects of light on affective behavior. Together, these results provide new insights into the neural basis required for light to influence mood and learning.

KEYWORDS:

aberrant light cycle; circadian rhythms; ipRGCs; learning; mood; perihabenular nucleus; suprachiasmatic nucleus; ventromedial prefrontal cortex

PMID:
30173913
PMCID:
PMC6190605
[Available on 2019-09-20]
DOI:
10.1016/j.cell.2018.08.004

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