Action Spectrum for Melatonin Suppression: Evidence for a Novel Circadian Photoreceptor in the Human Eye

  • George C. Brainard
  • John P. Hanifin


Light is a potent regulator of systemic physiology. Specifically, environmental light is the primary stimulus for regulating circadian rhythms, seasonal cycles, and neuroendocrine responses in many mammalian species including humans (1,2,3,4). Shortly after the regulatory capacity of light was demonstrated in humans, light was tested as a therapeutic intervention for treating winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder (5,6,7). Since then, twenty years of clinical studies have confirmed that light therapy is effective for treating winter depression (8,9,10). In addition, light therapy has been studied as a treatment for selected circadian sleep disorders, nonseasonal depression, menstrual disturbances, eating disorders as well as re-entraining circadian physiology relative to the challenges of shift work or intercontinental air travel (11,12).


Action Spectrum Light Therapy Melatonin Secretion Circadian Regulation Seasonal Affective Disorder 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • George C. Brainard
    • 1
  • John P. Hanifin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurology, Jefferson Medical CollegeThomas Jefferson UniversityPhiladelphia

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