Circadian desynchronization

Interface Focus. 2011 Feb 6;1(1):153-66. doi: 10.1098/rsfs.2010.0002. Epub 2010 Nov 17.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) coordinates via multiple outputs physiological and behavioural circadian rhythms. The SCN is composed of a heterogeneous network of coupled oscillators that entrain to the daily light-dark cycles. Outside the physiological entrainment range, rich locomotor patterns of desynchronized rhythms are observed. Previous studies interpreted these results as the output of different SCN neural subpopulations. We find, however, that even a single periodically driven oscillator can induce such complex desynchronized locomotor patterns. Using signal analysis, we show how the observed patterns can be consistently clustered into two generic oscillatory interaction groups: modulation and superposition. In seven of 17 rats undergoing forced desynchronization, we find a theoretically predicted third spectral component. Combining signal analysis with the theory of coupled oscillators, we provide a framework for the study of circadian desynchronization.

Keywords: circadian clock; entrainment; forced desynchronization; mathematical modelling; oscillator; synchronization.