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Recording and Analysis of Circadian Rhythms in Running-wheel Activity in Rodents


Recording and Analysis of Circadian Rhythms in Running-wheel Activity in Rodents

Verwey, Michael, Robinson, Barry and Amir, Shimon ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1919-5023 (2013) Recording and Analysis of Circadian Rhythms in Running-wheel Activity in Rodents. Journal of Visualized Experiments (71). ISSN 1940-087X

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/50186


When rodents have free access to a running wheel in their home cage, voluntary use of this wheel will depend on the time of day1-5. Nocturnal rodents, including rats, hamsters, and mice, are active during the night and relatively inactive during the day. Many other behavioral and physiological measures also exhibit daily rhythms, but in rodents, running-wheel activity serves as a particularly reliable and convenient measure of the output of the master circadian clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus. In general, through a process called entrainment, the daily pattern of running-wheel activity will naturally align with the environmental light-dark cycle (LD cycle; e.g. 12 hr-light:12 hr-dark). However circadian rhythms are endogenously generated patterns in behavior that exhibit a ~24 hr period, and persist in constant darkness. Thus, in the absence of an LD cycle, the recording and analysis of running-wheel activity can be used to determine the subjective time-of-day. Because these rhythms are directed by the circadian clock the subjective time-of-day is referred to as the circadian time (CT). In contrast, when an LD cycle is present, the time-of-day that is determined by the environmental LD cycle is called the zeitgeber time (ZT).

Although circadian rhythms in running-wheel activity are typically linked to the SCN clock6-8, circadian oscillators in many other regions of the brain and body9-14 could also be involved in the regulation of daily activity rhythms. For instance, daily rhythms in food-anticipatory activity do not require the SCN15,16 and instead, are correlated with changes in the activity of extra-SCN oscillators17-20. Thus, running-wheel activity recordings can provide important behavioral information not only about the output of the master SCN clock, but also on the activity of extra-SCN oscillators. Below we describe the equipment and methods used to record, analyze and display circadian locomotor activity rhythms in laboratory rodents.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Psychology
Item Type:Article
Authors:Verwey, Michael and Robinson, Barry and Amir, Shimon
Journal or Publication:Journal of Visualized Experiments
  • Fonds de la recherche en santé Québec (FRSQ)
  • Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)
  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)
  • Concordia University Research Chairs Program (CRUC)
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):10.3791/50186
Keywords:Neuroscience, Issue 71, Medicine, Neurobiology, Physiology, Anatomy, Psychology, Psychiatry, Behavior, Suprachiasmatic nucleus, locomotor activity, mouse, rat, hamster, light-dark cycle, free-running activity, entrainment, circadian period, circadian rhythm, phase shift, animal model
ID Code:983745
Deposited By: Danielle Dennie
Deposited On:13 Apr 2018 15:47
Last Modified:13 Apr 2018 15:47


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