Chapter

The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

Gabriella B. S. Lundkvist and Gene D. Block

in Handbook of Brain Microcircuits

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780195389883
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199965137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780195389883.003.0010
The Suprachiasmatic Nucleus

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This chapter describes the mammalian circadian pacemaker in the hypothalamus—the suprachiasmatic nucleus—which contains a highly specialized and distinct neuronal network with a precise function, namely the regulation of circadian (daily) rhythms in physiological functions and behavior. The SCN rhythmicity is discussed on three levels. Firstly, the generation of circadian rhythmicity is explained in terms of molecular feedback loops, and the involvement of transmembrane ion channel fluxes in rhythm generation. Secondly, the role of synaptic circuitry in forming a functional clock is discussed, as well as the function of neuropeptide and neurotransmitter release within the clock. Finally, the regional differences and specializations within the suprachiasmatic nucleus leading to complex behavior are described and summarized.

Chapter.  2128 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Development of the Nervous System

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