Melatonin where the sun never shines

Damien Broderick (
Sun, 15 Feb 1998 17:32:35 +0000

In regard to:

Campbell and Murphy (Cornell Univ., US) report
measurements of the response of the human circadian clock to
extraocular light exposure involving light pulses presented to
the popliteal region (the area behind the knee). They report a
systematic relation between the timing of the light pulse and the
magnitude and direction of clock phase shifts. The authors
suggest their findings challenge the belief that mammals are
incapable of extraretinal circadian phototransduction, and that
the findings also have implications for the development of more
effective treatments of sleep and circadian rhythm disorders. QY:
Scott S. Campbell, Cornell Univ. Medical College 212-746-1067
(Science 16 Jan 98)

A friend comments:

The crook of the knee does seem less than
wholly dignified as the locus of our better
naychurs, doesn't it...

I replied:

The crook of the knee isn't the site of attachment for the soul (that's the
vermiform appendix), it's just a place where copious blood vessels are
close to the surface and therefore the light can readily work its fiendish
tricks. I suspect a bright optic fiber stuck up the ass would work even
better. We will fly jetlag-free in our special shielded undies, wriggling
slightly from time to time. This will also be of aid to Customs in their
relentless search for contraband.

Damien Broderick