In synch but not in step: Circadian clock circuits regulating plasticity in daily rhythms

Neuroscience. 2016 Apr 21;320:259-80. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2016.01.072. Epub 2016 Feb 6.


The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) is a network of neural oscillators that program daily rhythms in mammalian behavior and physiology. Over the last decade much has been learned about how SCN clock neurons coordinate together in time and space to form a cohesive population. Despite this insight, much remains unknown about how SCN neurons communicate with one another to produce emergent properties of the network. Here we review the current understanding of communication among SCN clock cells and highlight a collection of formal assays where changes in SCN interactions provide for plasticity in the waveform of circadian rhythms in behavior. Future studies that pair analytical behavioral assays with modern neuroscience techniques have the potential to provide deeper insight into SCN circuit mechanisms.

Keywords: behavior; circadian; clock network; coupling; plasticity; suprachiasmatic nucleus.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Clocks / physiology*
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiology*