Daily and circadian variation in the electroretinogram of the domestic fowl: effects of melatonin

J. Lu, M. J. Zoran, V. M. Cassone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Visual and circadian function are integrally related in birds, but the precise nature of their interaction is unknown. The present study determined whether visual sensitivity measured electroretinographically (ERG) in 7-week-old cockerels varies over the time of day, whether this rhythm persists in constant darkness (DD) and whether exogenous melatonin affects this ERG rhythmicity. ERG b-wave amplitude was rhythmic in LD and persisted in DD with peak amplitude during mid- to late afternoon in LD and mid-subjective day in DD, indicating that the ERG rhythm is endogenously generated. No daily or circadian variation in a-wave amplitude was observed, and ERG component latency and durations were not rhythmic. Intramuscular injection of 10 μg/kg melatonin at ZT10 in LD significantly decreased b-wave amplitude but had no effect on a-wave. Intraocular injection of 600 pg melatonin, however, had no effect on any aspect of the ERG. These data indicate that a circadian clock regulates ocular sensitivity to light and that melatonin may mediate some or all of this effect. The level at which melatonin modulates retinal sensitivity is not known, but the present data suggest a central site rather than a direct effect of the hormone in the eye.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-306
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1995


  • Circadian
  • Electroretinogram
  • Melatonin
  • Pineal gland
  • Retina

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Physiology
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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