Limulus brain modulates the structure and function of the lateral eyes

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Science  28 Nov 1980:
Vol. 210, Issue 4473, pp. 1037-1039
DOI: 10.1126/science.7434015


At night efferent optic nerve activity generated by a circadian clock in the Limulus brain changes the structure of the photoreceptor and surrounding pigment cells in the animal's lateral eyes. The structural changes allow each ommatidium to gather light from a wider area at night than during the day. Visual sensitivity is thereby increased, but spatial resolution is diminished. At daybreak efferent activity from the clock stops, the structural changes reverse, and the field of view of each ommatidium decreases. The cyclic changes are endogenous and continue in the dark. Thus, under the control of a circadian clock, the Limulus eye exchanges its daytime acuity for greater sensitivity at night.