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Challenging the omnipotence of the suprachiasmatic timekeeper: are circadian oscillators present throughout the mammalian brain?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare GuildingORCiD


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The suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus (SCN) is the master circadian pacemaker or clock in the mammalian brain. Canonical theory holds that the output from this single, dominant clock is responsible for driving most daily rhythms in physiology and behaviour. However, important recent findings challenge this uniclock model and reveal clock-like activities in many neural and non-neural tissues. Thus, in addition to the SCN, a number of areas of the mammalian brain including the olfactory bulb, amygdala, lateral habenula and a variety of nuclei in the hypothalamus, express circadian rhythms in core clock gene expression, hormone output and electrical activity. This review examines the evidence for extra-SCN circadian oscillators in the mammalian brain and highlights some of the essential properties and key differences between brain oscillators. The demonstration of neural pacemakers outside the SCN has wide-ranging implications for models of the circadian system at a whole-organism level.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Guilding C, Piggins HD

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Neuroscience

Year: 2007

Volume: 25

Issue: 11

Pages: 3195-3216

Print publication date: 01/06/2007

Online publication date: 06/06/2007

Acceptance date: 11/04/2007

Date deposited: 25/09/2015

ISSN (print): 0953-816X

ISSN (electronic): 1460-9568

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2007.05581.x

PubMed id: 17552989


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