A neural theory of circadian rhythms: Split rhythms, after effects, and motivational interactions

Author(s): Carpenter, G.A. | Grossberg, S. |

Year: 1985

Citation: Journal of Theoretical Biology, 113(1), 163-223.

Abstract: A neural theory of the circadian pacemaker within the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) is used to explain parametric data about mammalian operant behavior. The intensity, duration, and patterning of ultradian activity-rest cycles and the duration of circadian periods due to parametric (LL) and nonparametric (LD) lighting regimes are simulated. Paradoxical data about split rhythms and after-effects are explained using homeostatic and nonhomeostatic neural mechanisms that modulate pacemaker activity. These modulatory mechanisms enable the pacemaker to adjust to pervasive changes in its lighting regime, as during the passage of seasons, and to ultradian changes in internal metabolic conditions. The model circadian mechanisms are homologous to mechanisms that model hypothalamically mediated appetitive behaviors, such as eating. The theory thus suggests that both circadian and appetitive hypothalamic circuits are constructed from similar neural components. Mechanisms of transmitter habituation, opponent feedback interactions between on-cells and off-cells, homeostatic negative feedback, and conditioning are used in both the circadian and the appetitive circuits. Output from the SCN circadian pacemaker is assumed to modulate the sensitivity of the appetitive circuits to external and internal signals by controlling their level of arousal. Both underarousal and overarousal can cause abnormal behavioral syndromes whose properties have been found in clinical data. A model pacemaker can also be realized as an intracellular system.

Topics: Biological Learning, Models: Other,

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Cross References

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