Cerebral neural correlates of differential melanopic photic stimulation in humans

Shao Min Hung*, Dan Milea, Annadata Venkata Rukmini, Raymond P. Najjar, Joo Huang Tan, Françoise Viénot, Marie Dubail, Sharon Lee Choon Tow, Tin Aung, Joshua J. Gooley, Po Jang Hsieh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Photic stimulation of rods, cones and intrinsically photosensitive melanopsin-containing retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) mediates non-visual light responses, including entrainment of circadian rhythms and pupillary light reflex. Unlike visual responses to photic stimulation, the cerebral correlates of non-visual light responses in humans remains elusive. In this study, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in 14 healthy young participants, to localize cerebral regions which are differentially activated by metameric light that gave rise to different levels of melanopic excitation. Mean blood oxygen-level dependent (BOLD) responses disclosed bilateral activation of the frontal eye fields during exposure to light geared towards melanopsin. Furthermore, multivariate pattern analyses showed distinct bilateral pattern activity in the inferior temporal gyri and the caudate nuclei. Taken together, our findings suggest that melanopsin-based photoreception activates a cerebral network including frontal regions, classically involved in attention and ocular motor responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-769
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Feb 1
Externally publishedYes


  • Blue light
  • Frontal eye field
  • Intrinsically photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Melanopsin
  • Metamers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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