[en] Light is a powerful modulator of cognition through its long-term effects on circadian rhythmicity and direct effects on brain function as identified by neuroimaging. How the direct impact of light on brain function varies with wavelength of light, circadian phase, and sleep homeostasis, and how this differs between individuals, is a largely unexplored area. Using functional MRI, we compared the effects of 1 minute of low-intensity blue (473 nm) and green light (527 nm) exposures on brain responses to an auditory working memory task while varying circadian phase and status of the sleep homeostat. Data were collected in 27 subjects genotyped for the PER3 VNTR (12 PER3(5/5) and 15 PER3(4/4) ) in whom it was previously shown that the brain responses to this task, when conducted in darkness, depend on circadian phase, sleep homeostasis, and genotype. In the morning after sleep, blue light, relative to green light, increased brain responses primarily in the ventrolateral and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and in the intraparietal sulcus, but only in PER3(4/4) individuals. By contrast, in the morning after sleep loss, blue light increased brain responses in a left thalamofrontoparietal circuit to a larger extent than green light, and only so in PER3(5/5) individuals. In the evening wake maintenance zone following a normal waking day, no differential effect of 1 minute of blue versus green light was observed in either genotype. Comparison of the current results with the findings observed in darkness indicates that light acts as an activating agent particularly under those circumstances in which and in those individuals in whom brain function is jeopardized by an adverse circadian phase and high homeostatic sleep pressure.
Centre de Recherches du Cyclotron - CRC
Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (Communauté française de Belgique) - F.R.S.-FNRS ; Fondation Médicale Reine Elisabeth ; Inter-university Attraction Poles (PAI/IAP) P6/29 ; the Wellcome Trust (GR069714MA) ; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council