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How does the pineal gland sense light?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Located deep inside the middle of our brain—in the exact center of our brain, actually—is our pineal gland. It's the only endocrine gland that is in contact with the outside world, and it senses when we're exposed to light, much in the way that a security-type light sensor does. The pineal gland has cells that resemble the back of the retina, but it is nestled deep in our brain, far away from any direct access to light.

In some animals—for instance, chameleons—it senses light directly through the skull. In human beings, it likely senses light through special receptors in the backs of our eyes that don't actually provide vision but do dictate our circadian rhythms. Even the blind have this rhythm, indicating that our pineals along with other neurological inputs can substitute for these special cells in our eye.
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You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty

From the Authors of the #1 Bestselling YOU: On A Diet and YOU: On a WalkWouldn't you like to know how to prevent your body from aging badly? Most of us believe that at age 40 or so, we begin the slow...

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.