The retina is a complex, but well-organized neural structure that converts optical radiation into neural signals that convey photic information to a wide variety of brain structures. The present paper is concerned with the neural circuits underlying phototransduction for the central pacemaker of the human circadian system. The proposed neural framework adheres to orthodox retinal neuroanatomy and neurophysiology. Several postulated mechanisms are also offered to account for the high threshold and for the subadditive response to polychromatic light exhibited by the human circadian phototransduction circuit. A companion paper, modeling circadian phototransduction: Quantitative predictions of psychophysical data, provides a computational model for predicting psychophysical data associated with nocturnal melatonin suppression while staying within the constraints of the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy offered here.

Original languageEnglish
Article number615305
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - 5 Feb 2021


  • circadian phototransduction
  • photic sub-additivity
  • retinal neuroanatomy
  • retinal neurophysiology
  • shunting inhibition


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