Minutes, days and years: molecular interactions among different scales of biological timing

Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Jan 20;369(1637):20120465. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2012.0465. Print 2014 Mar 5.


Biological clocks are genetically encoded oscillators that allow organisms to keep track of their environment. Among them, the circadian system is a highly conserved timing structure that regulates several physiological, metabolic and behavioural functions with periods close to 24 h. Time is also crucial for everyday activities that involve conscious time estimation. Timing behaviour in the second-to-minutes range, known as interval timing, involves the interaction of cortico-striatal circuits. In this review, we summarize current findings on the neurobiological basis of the circadian system, both at the genetic and behavioural level, and also focus on its interactions with interval timing and seasonal rhythms, in order to construct a multi-level biological clock.

Keywords: biological timing; circadian system; cortico-striatal circuits; dopamine; interval timing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Corpus Striatum / physiology*
  • Mammals
  • Models, Biological*
  • Seasons*
  • Species Specificity
  • Time Factors
  • Time Perception / physiology*