Effects of light on cognitive performance, circadian markers, autonomic nervous system and sleep homeostasis in healthy elderly men and women with different PER3 genotypes

Antoine viola

Nationality French

Year of selection 2010

Institution University of Basel

Country Switzerland

Risk Health

Post-Doctoral Fellowship

2 years

120000 €

Feeling sleepy? Go into the light!

Scientists have proven that exposure to bright polychromatic light at night can increase alertness and cognitive performance. Dr. Antoine Viola is among the first to investigate how people react to exposure to bright light based on their genetic predisposition. The PER3 gene comes in two forms: people with the longer version are more affected by sleep deprivation. The results could provide a means to enhance alertness and performance, but also new treatments for certain sleep disorders.

In his own words...

The coding region of the clock gene, PER3, contains a variable number tandem repeat which has evolved in primates, with inter- and intra-specific length polymorphisms. In humans, we have reported the longer allele (five tandem repeats) to associate with morningness, and the shorter allele (four tandem repeats) with eveningness and delayed sleep phase syndrome . Findings from the most recent study have suggested that the association between diurnal preference and the PER3 polymorphism is strongest in young people (age 18-29) and attenuates with increasing age. My principal research focuses are on the circadian and sleep physiology of individuals possessing the homozygous type of PER3 polymorphism (PER3-4/4 or PER3-5/5) selected purely on the basis of genotype.

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