Centre for Chronobiology, University of Basel

Psychiatric Hospital, Chronobiology

Christian Cajochen
Wihelm Kleinstr. 27, 4012
+41 6132 55474
+41 6132 55556
Research Domain
  • Basic Human
  • Clinical

Laboratory description

Investigative work in our research group focuses on circadian and homeostatic regulation of human sleep, alertness, cognitive performance, mood, memory consolidation and thermoregulation, and applying that knowledge to ageing as well as to sleep and psychiatric disorders. It is our goal to translate our research results into clinical aspects in the field of sleep medicine, psychiatry and occupational health medicine.

Current research interests include:
■Non-visual/non-image forming effects of light on circadian physiology, sleep and cognition
■Cerebral mechanisms underlying the influence of age-related changes in circadian and homeostatic processes on cognition: a functional neuroimaging approach
■Impact of cataract surgery and intra-ocular lens replacement on endocrine and molecular circadian rhythms, sleep and cognitive function in older adults
■Acute and short-term effects of road, railway and aircraft noise exposure on annoyance, sleep disturbances and cardiometabolic risk
■Circadian rhythms and sleep regulation in psychiatric disorders
■Chronotherapy (e.g. light treatment) in psychiatric disorders

The Centre for Chronobiology in Basel, Switzerland has facilities and equipment to conduct both ambulatory field and laboratory studies. It has five fully equipped suites to carry out constant routine protocols for intensive physiological monitoring. For nearly twenty years we have utilized the constant routine protocol (with different variations) in order to be able to unmask the endogenous circadian component of various thermoregulatory, neuroendocrine, EEG, performance and behavioral rhythms controlled by the circadian pacemaker.

■Fully digitized recorders for polysomnography (each: 28 channel-EEG, respiration, ECG, galvanic skin response, EMG, EOG, markers for evoked potentials etc.)
■Fully digitized recorders for body temperatures (different skin temperatures and core body temperature)
■Different analysis software for EEG spectral analysis and the analysis of autonomous parameters (i.e. heart rate variability, temperatures etc.)
■Ibuttons to record skin temperatures in an ambulatory setting
■Actimetry devices to record wrist activity/light exposure
■CANTAB neurocognitive test battery and other neurobehavioral test batteries
■Monochromatic light devices
■Bright light devices for therapeutic use
■Assays for melatonin and cortisol measures
■Cell based assays to correlate human circadian behavior with clock function

Technical Capabilities and areas of expertise


Selected Publications in the 5 past years:

Maire, M.; Reichert, C.F.; Gabel, V.; Viola, A.U.; Strobel, W.; Krebs, J.; Landolt, H.P.; Bachmann, V.; Cajochen, C.; Schmidt, C.
Sleep ability mediates individual differences in the vulnerability to sleep loss: Evidence from a PER3 polymorphism
Cortex, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cortex.2013., 2014.

Danilenko, K. V.; Verevkin, E.G.; Antyufeev, V.S.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Cajochen, C.
The hockey-stick method to estimate evening dim light melatonin onset
Chronobiology International, early online, S. 1-7, 2013.

Bromundt, V.; Frey, S.; Odermatt, J.; Cajochen, C.
Extraocular light via the ear canal does not acutely affect human circadian physiology, alertness and psychomotor vigilance performance
Chronobiology International, early online, S. 1-6, 2013.

Putilov, A.A.; Münch, M.Y.; Cajochen, C.
Principal component structuring of the Non-REM sleep EEG spectrum in older adults yields age-related changes in the sleep and wake drives
Current Aging Science, 6 epub ahead, S. 1-13, 2013.

Cajochen, C.; Altanay-Ekici, S.; Münch, M.; Frey, S.; Knoblauch, Vera; Wirz-Justice, A.
Evidence that the Lunar Cycle Influences Human Sleep
Current Biology, 23 (15), S. 1-4, 2013.

Maire, M.; Reichert, C.F.; Schmidt, C.
Sleep-Wake Rhythms and Cognition
Journal of Cognitive and Behavioral Psychotherapies, 13 (1), S. 133-170, 2013.

Gabel, V.; Maire, M.; Chellappa, C.F. Reichert S.L.; Schmidt, C.; Hommes, V.; Viola, A.U.; Cajochen, C.
Effects of Artificial Dawn and Morning Blue Light on Daytime Cognitive Performance, Well-being, Cortisol and Melatonin Levels
Chronobiology International, 30, S. 988-97, 2013.

Chellappa, S.L.; Steiner, R.; Oelhafen, P.; Lang, D.; Götz, T.; Krebs, J.; Cajochen, C.
Acute exposure to evening blue-enriched light impacts on human sleep
Journal of Sleep Research, 2013.

Bromundt, V.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Kyburz, S.; Opwis, K.; Dammann, G.; Cajochen, C.
Circadian sleep-wake cycles, well-being, and light therapy in Borderline Personality Disorder
Journal of Personality Disorders, 26. doi: 10.1521/pedi_2012_26_057, 2012.

Schmidt, C.; Peigneux, P.; Cajochen, C.
Age-related changes in sleep and circadian rhythms: impact on cognitive performance and underlying neuroanatomical networks
Frontiers in Neurology 3:118. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2012.00118, 2012.

Frey, S.; Birchler-Pedross, A.; Hofstetter, M.; Brunner, P.; Götz, T.; Münch, M.; Blatter, K.; Knoblauch, V.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Cajochen, C.
Challenging the sleep homeostat: Sleep in depression is not premature aging
Sleep Medicine 13: 933-945, 2012.

Frey, S.; Birchler-Pedross, A.; Hofstetter, M.; Brunner, P.; Götz, T.; Münch, M.; Blatter, K.; Knoblauch, V.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Cajochen, C.
Young women with major depression live on higher homeostatic sleep pressure than healthy controls
Chronobiology International 29(3): 278-294, 2012.

Chellappa, S.L.; Münch, M.; Knoblauch, V.; Cajochen, C.
Age effects on spectral electroencephalogram activity prior to dream recall
J Sleep Res. Aug 18. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2011.00947.x (Epub ahead of print), 2011.

Viola, A.U.; Chellappa, S.L.; Archer, S.N.; Pugin, F.; Götz, T.; Dijk, D.J.; Cajochen, C.
Interindividual differences in circadian rhythmicity and sleep homeostasis in older people: effect of a PER3 polymorphism
Neurobiology of Aging Dec 12 (Epub ahead of print), 2011.

Chellappa, S.L.; Viola, A.U.; Schmidt, C.; Bachmann, V.; Gabel, V.; Maire, M.; Reichert, C.F.; Valomon, A.; Götz, T.; Landolt, H.P.; Cajochen, C.
Human melatonin and alerting response to blue-enriched light depend on a polymorphism in the clock gene PER3
J Clin Endocrinol Metab 97(3), 2011.

Birchler-Pedross, A.; Frey, S.; Chellappa, S.L.; Götz, T.; Brunner, P.; Knoblauch, V.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Cajochen, C.
Higher frontal EEG synchronization in young women with major depression: A marker for increased homeostatic sleep pressure?
Sleep 34(12): 1699-1706, 2011.
Chellappa, S.L.; Gordijn, M.C.M.; Cajochen, C.
Can light make us bright? Effects of light on cognition sleep
In: Kerkhof G. and Van Dongen H.P.A. (Eds), Progress in Brain Research 190: 119-133, 2011.

Chellappa, S.L.; Frey, S.; Knoblauch, V.; Cajochen, C.
Cortical activation patterns herald successful dream recall after NREM and REM sleep
Biol Psychology 87: 251-256, 2011.
Bromundt, V.; Köster, M.; Georgiev-Kill, A.; Opwis, K.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Stoppe, G.; Cajochen, C.
Sleep-wake cycles and cognitive functioning in schizophrenia.
Br J Psychiatry, epub 10.1192/bjp.bp.110.078022, 2011.

Cajochen, C.; Frey, S.; Anders, D.; Späti, J.; Bues, M.; Pross, A.; Mager, R.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Stefani, O.
Evening exposure to a light emitting diodes (LED)-backlit computer screen affects circadian physiology and cognitive performance

Chellappa, S.L.; Steiner, R.; Blattner, P.; Oelhafen, P.; Götz, T.; Cajochen, C.
Non-Visual Effects of Light on Melatonin, Alertness and Cognitive Performance: Can Blue-Enriched Light Keep Us Alert?
PLoS ONE 6(1): e16429. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0016429, 2011.

Kräuchi, K.; Deboer, T.
Body Temperatures, Sleep, and Hibernation.
Kryger Chap. 28, 2011.

Kolodyazhniy, V.; Späti, J.; Frey, S.; Götz, T.; Wirz-Justice, A.; Kräuchi, K.; Cajochen, C.; Wilhelm, F.H.
Estimation of human circadian phase via a multi-channel ambulatory monitoring system and a multiple regression model.
J Biol Rhythms 26: 55-67., 2011.

Anders, D.; Vollenweider, S.; Cann, J.; Hofstetter, M.; Flammer, J.; Örgül, S.; Kräuchi, K.
Heart-rate variability in women during 40-hour prolonged wakefulness.
Chronobiology International 27(8): 1609-1628., 2010.

Cajochen, C.; Chellappa, S.L.; Schmidt, C.
What keeps us awake?–the role of clocks and hourglasses, light, and melatonin.
Int Rev Neurobiol 93:57-90., 2010.

Gompper, B.; Bromundt, V.; Orgül, S.; Flammer, J.; Kräuchi, K.
Phase relationship between skin temperature and sleep-wake rhythms in women with vascular dysregulation and controls under real-life conditions.
Chronobiol Int. 27(9-10):1778-96., 2010.

Kräuchi, K.; Deboer, T.
The interrelationship between sleep regulation and thermoregulation.
Front Biosci. 1;15:604-25., 2010.

Current/Completed Grants (past 5 years):

SNF Sinergia Project: #CRSII3_147632 “Transportation noise, annoyance, sleep and cardiometabolic risk: an integrated approach on short- and long-term effects”. 4 Partners. Duration 2014-2017.

SNF #310030_130689: “Cerebral mechanisms underlying the influence of age-related changes in circadian and homeostatic processes on cognition: a functional neuroimaging approach”.

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