New research has identified the way age impairs the ability of the circadian clock in mammals to reset itself when exposed to light, resulting in disruption to sleeping patterns and consequent threats to wellbeing.

Researchers, led by a University of Kent neurophysiologist, found that aging results in a significant reduction in sensitivity to light in the part of the brain that controls circadian rhythms, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus.

The breakthrough could help target treatments that aim to improve both physiological and behavioral circadian clock “resetting” in older people. Gurprit Lall, PhD, of the Universities Medway School of Pharmacy, and other members of the research team, explored alterations in one of the pathways in the part of the brain controlling circadian rhythms. They found that a glutamate receptor (NMDA), used to transit light information, became less effective in resetting the circadian clock as part of the aging process.

Source: Science Daily, sciencedaily.com

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