Ultradian (~4 h) rhythms in locomotor activity that do not depend on the master circadian pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus have been observed across mammalian species, however, the underlying mechanisms driving these rhythms are unknown. We show that disruption of the dopamine transporter gene lengthens the period of ultradian locomotor rhythms in mice. Period lengthening also results from chemogenetic activation of midbrain dopamine neurons and psychostimulant treatment, while the antipsychotic haloperidol has the opposite effect. We further reveal that striatal dopamine levels fluctuate in synchrony with ultradian activity cycles and that dopaminergic tone strongly predicts ultradian period. Our data indicate that an arousal regulating, dopaminergic ultradian oscillator (DUO) operates in the mammalian brain, which normally cycles in harmony with the circadian clock, but can desynchronize when dopamine tone is elevated, thereby producing aberrant patterns of arousal which are strikingly similar to perturbed sleep-wake cycles comorbid with psychopathology.
Animal experimentation: All experimental procedures were performed in accordance with the Canadian Council on Animal Care guidelines and approved by the McGill University Animal Care Committee (animal use protocol #2010-5945).
- Richard D Palmiter, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Washington, United States
© 2014, Blum et al.
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Dopamine drives an "ultradian" clock with a period of around four hours in mice.
The human cerebral cortex is symmetrically organized along large-scale axes but also presents inter-hemispheric differences in structure and function. The quantified contralateral homologous difference, that is asymmetry, is a key feature of the human brain left-right axis supporting functional processes, such as language. Here, we assessed whether the asymmetry of cortical functional organization is heritable and phylogenetically conserved between humans and macaques. Our findings indicate asymmetric organization along an axis describing a functional trajectory from perceptual/action to abstract cognition. Whereas language network showed leftward asymmetric organization, frontoparietal network showed rightward asymmetric organization in humans. These asymmetries were heritable in humans and showed a similar spatial distribution with macaques, in the case of intra-hemispheric asymmetry of functional hierarchy. This suggests (phylo)genetic conservation. However, both language and frontoparietal networks showed a qualitatively larger asymmetry in humans relative to macaques. Overall, our findings suggest a genetic basis for asymmetry in intrinsic functional organization, linked to higher order cognitive functions uniquely developed in humans.