Addition of a non-photic component to a light-based mathematical model of the human circadian pacemaker

J Theor Biol. 2007 Aug 21;247(4):583-99. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.04.001. Epub 2007 Apr 4.


Mathematical models have become vital to the study of many biological processes in humans due to the complexity of the physiological mechanisms underlying these processes and systems. While our current mathematical representation of the human circadian pacemaker has proven useful in many experimental situations, it uses as input only a direct effect of light on the circadian pacemaker. Although light (a photic stimulus) has been shown to be the primary synchronizer of the circadian pacemaker across a number of species, studies in both animals and humans have confirmed the existence of non-photic effects that also contribute to phase shifting and entrainment. We modified our light-based circadian mathematical model to reflect evidence from these studies that the sleep-wake cycle and/or associated behaviors have a non-photic effect on the circadian pacemaker. In our representation, the sleep-wake cycle and its associated behaviors provides a non-photic drive on the circadian pacemaker that acts both independently and concomitantly with light stimuli. Further experiments are required to validate fully our model and to understand the exact effect of the sleep-wake cycle as a non-photic stimulus for the human circadian pacemaker.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks
  • Circadian Rhythm*
  • Computer Simulation*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • Photic Stimulation
  • Sleep*
  • Wakefulness*