On light as an alerting stimulus at night
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Light exposure at night increases alertness; however, it is not clear if light affects nocturnal alertness in the same way that it affects measures of circadian regulation. The purpose of this study was to determine if a previously established functional relationship between light and nocturnal melatonin suppression was the same as that relating light exposure and nocturnal alertness. Four levels of narrow-band blue light at the cornea were presented during nighttime sessions. The ratio of electroencephalographic alpha power density with eyes closed to eyes open (alpha attenuation coefficient, AAC) and the Norris mood scale were used. The AAC and ratings of alertness increased monotonically with irradiance and were highly correlated. Both measures of alertness were highly correlated with model predictions of nocturnal melatonin suppression for the same circadian light stimulus, consistent with the inference that the suprachiasmatic nuclei play an important role in nocturnal alertness as well as circadian regulation.
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M.G. Figueiro, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 21 Union Street, Troy, NY 12180, USA