The circadian rhythm of CAP frequency recorded from the optic nerve of isolated eyes at 15 °C was damped out by constant illumination (1100 lux) after several cycles of the rhythm. During illumination (LL) the rhythm was skewed with a rapid rising phase and slow falling phase, and the period was decreased by about 1 h. It is postulated that the circadian clock was stopped by LL at its lowest phase point, and that following cessation of LL, the rhythm was reinitiated from this phase point after a latency of 6-8 h.
For light pulses of 80 lux and 1100 lux, the photoresponse of the dark-adapted eye to 20 min light pulses applied beginning at 2 h intervals was not influenced by the circadian clock. At 5 lux there was a periodicity in the magnitude of the photoresponse, in phase with the circadian rhythm of spontaneous CAP production.
Small CAPs of non-circadian frequency were recorded together with normal CAPs in about 10% of records of output from isolated eyes. The cells producing the small CAPs had a different temperature sensitivity from those producing normal CAPs. The response of these cells to short light pulses consisted of a phasic burst of activity at light onset, followed by silence during the remainder of the short light pulse, and for 1 or 2 min following cessation of illumination. These small CAPs may be the activity either of H-type receptors or of secondary cells desynchronized from the major population.
Laboratory of Sensory Sciences, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 1993 East-West Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822, U.S.A.