Circadian Rhythms

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  • Circadian rhythms,
    • The Cave study:  Michel Siffre (1972) He spent 6 months living in a cave with no natural light. 
      • He was wired up so that some of his body functions could be recorded (EEG,EMG,EOG); he had a telephone  and was monitored.
    • Circadian rhythms
      • Other rhythms: core body temp which dips just after lunch. Hormones like melatonin peaks during the hours of darkness and encourages feelings of sleep
      • Circadian rhythms are a pattern of behaviour that occurs and recurs about every 24hrs, which is set and reset by environmental light levels
      • Our circadian rhythms are driven by our internal body clock which is controlled by the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) which is part of the hypothalamus
      • Light provides the main input to the SCN which then coordinates the circadian system setting the body clock to the correct time
      • The SCN acts as an ‘internal clock’ to keep the body in a  24hr sleep-wake cycle. The SCN sends messages to the pineal gland which produces melatonin


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