No, light behind the knee does NOT shift the clock!

For science bloggers, a study older than a week is often too old to blog about. For scientists, last five years of literature are the most relevant (and many grad students, unfortunately, never read the older stuff). I thought that for journalists, 24-cycle was everything. Apparently not.
Northwest Explorer’s ‘Senior Life’ columnist is having a Senior Moment, I guess. In this article about Seasonal Affective Disorder, he mentions a study that is several years old and, what’s worse, has been shown to be wrong. No, the mammalian circadian clock CANNOT be reset by shining a light at the region of the leg just behind the knee.
When that study came out in Science several years ago (in 1998), there was quite a media frenzy about it. However, a few months later, while the PI (Dr.Campbell) was still publically defending the study, the co-authors and other lab members were already privately conceding that they could not replicate the data in their own lab. No need to mention that several labs have immediatelly tested the proposition, both in humans and in other mammals, and nobody could get to replicate the effect. While the study was never officially retracted, it quietly went away – there is probably not a single person in the field, Dr. Campbell included, who still believes in this. Except this columnist. And his unfortunate readers.
For more information about SAD, see here.

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