New research reveals how pupils behave when we are asleep
Ruth Steer |
It’s well understood that pupil size can be dictated by surrounding light conditions and attentional states during wakefulness, but how do pupils behave during sleep? A research group from the University of Geneva in Switzerland had recently observed that their laboratory mice often slept with their eyes open under certain conditions and decided to study how pupil dynamics evolve during sleep. They found that pupil size changed rhythmically when the mice were asleep (Figure 1), and corresponded with sleep states (NREM and REM) (1). Hypothesizing that pupil size varies during sleep to protect the eyes from light stimulus that might interrupt slumber, the authors plan to pursue their studies in humans. Corresponding author, Daniel Huber, tells us more…
How did you track pupil behavior?
For this study, we developed a novel optical pupil tracking system for mice in which an infrared LED was apposed to the head of the animal. The invisible light from this LED travels through the skull and brain, and finally illuminates the back of the eye. When the eyes were imaged with an infrared camera, the pupils appeared as bright circles. This novel illumination method was easy to implement, it tracked the pupil accurately and facilitated tracking even under conditions where the eyelid is partly closed.
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