Researchers at University of California removed the brains of flies and used a low-light camera to document how circadian clock is “reset” by light.
This study, funded by US government, is the first time when scientists have monitored in real time how specific neurons in the brain react to light cues, similar to what happens while traveling rapidly across different time zones.
Scientists discovered that a single light pulse is able to send a signal the biological clock of the fruit brain to shift two hours ahead, and then effectively resets itself.
“Broad features of this pattern of circadian circuit response to light may be applied to humans and other mammals,” the report states.
Todd C Holmes, lead researcher and professor of physiology and biophysics at UCI School of Medicine, said: “Remarkably, our work indicates that the way you feel while jet-lagged exactly reflects what your nervous system is experiencing: a profound loss of synchrony.”
By speeding up the disruption of the body clock ahead of travel in a way that it resets itself more quickly by an estimated two days could “lead to treatments that’ll have a big impact on our travel practices,” he mentioned.
Professor Holmes said that jet lag recovery – normally takes four days for the time shift tested. A longer shift, for example one experienced after flying from London to Los Angeles, would likely require a longer time for recovery.
Jet lag recovery takes about four days for the time shift used in the test, said Professor Holmes. When flying longer, such as from London to Los Angeles, recovery would take even longer.
“That two-day difference is quite a bit if it means you feel great from the beginning of your arrival, say, in Italy,” Holmes noted. “You’re going to feel bad on the plane in any event, so it’s best to get the adjustment over with so you can enjoy your destination.”