Publication

Integration of color and intensity increases time signal stability for the human circadian system when sunlight is obscured by clouds

Woelders, T., Wams, E. J., Gordijn, M. C. M., Beersma, D. G. M. & Hut, R. A., 12-Oct-2018, In : Scientific Reports. 8, 1, 10 p., 15214.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

The mammalian circadian system encodes both absolute levels of light intensity and color to phase-lock (entrain) its rhythm to the 24-h solar cycle. The evolutionary benefits of circadian color-coding over intensity-coding per se are yet far from understood. A detailed characterization of sunlight is crucial in understanding how and why circadian photoreception integrates color and intensity information. To this end, we continuously measured 100 days of sunlight spectra over the course of a year. Our analyses suggest that circadian color-coding may have evolved to cope with cloud-induced variation in light intensity. We proceed to show how an integration of intensity and spectral composition reduces day-to-day variability in the synchronizing signal (Zeitgeber). As a consequence, entrained phase angle of the circadian clock will be more stable, which will be beneficial for the organism. The presented characterization of sunlight dynamics may become important in designing lighting solutions aimed at minimizing the detrimental effects of light at night in modern societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15214
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume8
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12-Oct-2018

    Keywords

  • ASTRONOMICAL-ALMANACS ALGORITHM, SOLAR POSITION 1950-2050, NATURAL ENTRAINMENT, GANGLION-CELLS, LIGHT, PHASE, SENSITIVITY, PERIOD, IRRADIANCE, PACEMAKER

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