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Control of the rat's circadian self-stimulation rhythm by light-dark cycles

Physiology & Behavior 14(6): 781-789

Control of the rat's circadian self-stimulation rhythm by light-dark cycles

Rats with hypothalamic and septal electrodes were maintained in continuous test environments where bar-press responses produced brief reinforcing electrical stimulations. Long-term trends in response emission were measured under continuous exposure to light, dark and 12 hr light-dark alternations. In addition, transient behavioral adjustment to sudden 180 degrees phase shifts in the light-dark schedule was studied. The ambient light condition was found to control the period and phase of the circadian rhythm of brain self-stimulation behavior, as quantified by Fourier analysis. The circadian period was greatest under constant light (up to 24.90 hr under dim illumination), and approximated 24.00 hr under constant dark. Successful nocturnal entrainment to 12 hr light-dark alternations was obtained, with the peak of the 24 hr Fourier fundamental occurring in the middle-to-late dark segments. Three to 11 days were required for re-entrainment to 180 degrees light-dark phase shifts, during which the behavioral oscillation period increased to values comparable to periods under constant light. The rate of re-entrainment appeared to be proportional to illumination intensity during light segments.

Accession: 039683118

PMID: 1187832

DOI: 10.1016/0031-9384(75)90070-0

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