1. Neuroscience
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Circadian Rhythms: Activity is a slave to many masters

  1. Andrew D Steele  Is a corresponding author
  2. Ralph E Mistlberger  Is a corresponding author
  1. California State Polytechnic University Pomona, United States
  2. Simon Fraser University, Canada
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Cite this article as: eLife 2015;4:e06351 doi: 10.7554/eLife.06351
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Different kinds of body clocks.

Retinal input to a clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) entrains circadian (∼24 hr) rhythms to daily cycles of light and darkness. Dopamine neurons in the midbrain and dopamine sensitive neurons in the dorsal striatum appear to be crucial for regulating activity rhythms with periods of ~4 hours: these ultradian oscillators can operate independently of the SCN clock, and can be driven to periodicities in the 12-100 hour range under high dopaminergic tone. Some of these oscillators may be constrained to circadian periods and control activity rhythms that anticipate daily meals or other rewards that activate dopamine neurons at ∼24-hr intervals. Daily variations in activity may therefore reflect joint control by ultradian and circadian oscillators under dopamine control.

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