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Stimulating brain tissue with bright light alters functional connectivity in brain at the resting state

Author(s): Tuomo Starck | Juuso Nissilä | Antti Aunio | Ahmed Abou-Elseoud | Jukka Remes | Juha Nikkinen | Markku Timonen | Timo Takala | Osmo Tervonen | Vesa Kiviniemi

Journal: World Journal of Neuroscience
ISSN 2162-2000

Volume: 02;
Issue: 02;
Start page: 81;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: fMRI | Resting State | Functional Connectivity | Light | Opsin

Light is considered to modulate human brain function only via the retinal pathway, a way of thinking that we aimed to challenge in the present study. Literature provides evidence of inherent phototransduction for instance in the rat brain and there are potentially photosensitive opsin proteins like melanopsin and panopsin in the human brain too. In order to investigate a short term response, functional connectivity changes of the brain were studied in the resting state with functional magnetic resonance imaging during bright light stimulus via the ear canal. Lateral visual and sensorimotor networks showed increased functional connectivity in the light stimulus group compared to sham controls. The lateral visual network demonstrated slowly increasing functional connectivity on average and the same temporal characteristic was shared by diverse cerebellar brain regions. Hypothetical phototransduction signal pathways leading to responses in brain function are discussed as well as some observed effects and their possible link to the findings. Findings from this study together with the plausible photoreceptor candidates suggest that the brain possesses photosensitive properties, which will have interesting implications for the modulation of brain function and understanding the basic physiology of the brain.
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