Optimization of circadian responses with shorter and shorter millisecond flashes

Sevag Kaladchibachi, David C. Negelspach, Jamie M. Zeitzer, Fabian Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Recent work suggests that the circadian pacemaker responds optimally to millisecond flashes of light, not continuous light exposure as has been historically believed. It is unclear whether these responses are influenced by the physical characteristics of the pulsing. In the present study, Drosophila (n = 2199) were stimulated with 8, 16 or 120 ms flashes. For each duration, the energy content of the exposure was systematically varied by changing the pulse irradiance and the number of stimuli delivered over a fixed 15 min administration window (64 protocols surveyed in all). Results showed that per microjoule invested, 8 ms flashes were more effective at resetting the circadian activity rhythm than 16- and 120 ms flashes (i.e. left shift of the dose-response curve, as well as a higher estimated maximal response). These data suggest that the circadian pacemaker's photosensitivity declines within milliseconds of light contact. Further introduction of light beyond a floor of (at least) 8 ms leads to diminishing returns on phase-shifting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20190371
JournalBiology letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2019


  • Circadian
  • Flash
  • Light
  • Millisecond
  • Photostimulation
  • Phototherapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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