Meeting Abstract

BERN.1  Monday, Jan. 5 19:00  The Dark Side of Light at Night NELSON, Randy J; Ohio State University

Life on earth has evolved during the past 3-4 billion years under relatively bright days and dark night conditions. The wide-spread adoption of electric lights during the past century exposed animals to significant light at night for the first time in their evolutionary history. Endogenous circadian clocks depend on light to entrain to the external daily environment, and seasonal rhythms depend on clear nightly melatonin signals to assess time of year. Thus, light at night can derange temporal adaptations. Indeed, disruption of naturally evolved light-dark cycles results in several physiological and behavioral changes with potentially serious implications for reproduction and survival. In this talk, I will discuss several mechanisms through which light at night may exert its effects on circadian and seasonal rhythms, as well as describe the downstream effects of disrupted biological clock mechanisms on reproduction, immune function, and the timing of food intake.

Randy Nelson is a Professor and Chair of the Department of Neuroscience at The Ohio State University Medical Center. He holds the Dr. John D. and E. Olive Brumbaugh Chair in Brain Research and Teaching as well as joint appointments as Professor of Psychology and Evolution, Ecology, and Organismal Biology at OSU. Nelson earned his AB and MA degrees in Psychology in at the University of California at Berkeley. He earned both a PhD in Psychology and a PhD in Endocrinology simultaneously from the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Nelson completed a postdoctoral fellowship in reproductive physiology at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the faculty at OSU in the fall of 2000 after serving for 4 years on the faculty at The Johns Hopkins University where he was Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Nelson has published over 300 research articles and several books describing studies in seasonality, behavioral endocrinology, biological rhythms, stress, immune function, sex behavior, and aggressive behavior. His current studies examine the effects of light at night on metabolism, mood, inflammation, and behavior.