A study conducted by University of California, Irvine, reveals the inner mechanisms of jet lag with the help of first real-time imaging of intact circadian neural networks, courtesy of a fruit fly's 'brain in a jar'.
Researchers used imaging technology to make movies of fruit fly brains kept alive for 6-days in a petri dish. It captured the activity of individual circadian clocks at single-cell resolution with an extremely sensitive low-light camera. This showed how the circadian clock circuit is 'reset' by light.
The scientists found that desynchronization of circadian neurons is a key feature of light-induced jet lag. They suggest that treatments accelerating this desynchronization before travel may speed recovery afterward. Todd C. Holmes said, "Remarkably, our work indicates that the way you feel while jet-lagged exactly reflects what your nervous system is experiencing- a profound loss of synchrony."
The study appears online in Current Biology.