Melanopsin Mediated Responses to Light

Since the discovery ~20 years ago that the mammalian retina contains light-sensitive sensors other than cones and rods, and that these are the melanopsin-containing intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs), research into the role of the ipRGCs in human vision and non-visual behaviour has increased exponentially. In humans, light signalling from the ipRGCs entrains the circadian rhythm – and thereby affects the sleep-wake cycle and a host of other biological functions; modulates pupil constriction; influences brightness perception; and may also alter other aspects of visual perception directly and indirectly. Much of what is known about the varied roles of melanopsin in mammalian light reception comes from laboratory studies in mice and behavioural studies in humans, and there are large gaps in understanding of the complete system in either species. Despite these gaps, the lighting industry has taken on board the role that the melanopic power of light spectra may play in affecting human behaviour, health and perception, and has instituted standards for the melanopic content of lighting. Novel lighting technologies include means of modulating melanopic irradiance which are now being deployed in various environments, including in clinical applications.

This meeting will bring together biologists, neuroscientists, vision scientists, and lighting engineers, to discuss the fundamental biology of melanopic light-sensing circuitry in mice and humans, to articulate the outstanding questions, and to guide the application of melanopic-aware lighting standards for everyday life and in clinical interventions.


Dr. Annette Allan (University of Manchester)

Prof. Dr. Manuel Spitschan (Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics and Technical University of Munich)

Professor Anya Hurlbert (Newcastle University, Rank Prize Optoelectronics Committee)