Responses of the mammalian retina to experimental alteration of the ambient magnetic field

Brain Res. 1988 May 17;448(2):325-30. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(88)91271-1.


The detection of earth strength magnetic fields by rodents has been demonstrated previously by numerous physiological and behavioral techniques. This phenomenon appears to require input from the eyes. In an effort to better understand this phenomenon retinal melatonin synthesis and catecholamine contents were assayed in rats exposed at night to an alteration of the ambient magnetic field. In normal animals both dopamine and norepinephrine levels in the retina were reduced by this stimulus, while retinal melatonin synthesis was unaffected. Animals that had lost their intact photoreceptors as a result of 8 weeks of previous constant light exposure did not show a catecholamine response to the magnetic stimulus. These results support the view that the mammalian retina participates in the relaying of magnetic information into the central nervous system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase / metabolism
  • Catecholamines / metabolism*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Electromagnetic Phenomena*
  • Lighting
  • Male
  • Melatonin / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Retina / metabolism
  • Retina / pathology
  • Retina / physiology*


  • Catecholamines
  • Arylamine N-Acetyltransferase
  • Melatonin