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Physiol Behav. 1999 Aug;67(2):307-14.

Food entrainment to 4-h T cycles in rats kept under constant lighting conditions.

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Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Faculty of Biology, University of Murcia, Spain.


The effect of 4-h feeding cycles on the feeding pattern of rats kept under constant light and constant darkness, was analysed. In both cases, the scheduled pattern of food-approach behavior elicited dissociation of the feeding activity into several components associated to the feeding times (CAFT), which coexisted with the previous circadian free-running rhythms. In LL rats and in the rest phase of DD animals, the CAFT was characterized by an increased number of food approaches confined exclusively to the period of food availability, with poor anticipatory activity. However, in the active phase of some DD rats, CAFT included an additional anticipatory activity. The interaction between the CAFT and the free-running rhythms involved modulation of the CAFT, depending on the free-running periodicity. After termination of the feeding-restriction schedule, some DD and LL animals retained the CAFT for at least 3 days. However, when the access to food was blocked 10 days after ending the restricted schedule, rats did not show any feeding activity associated to the previous feeding times. A spontaneous feeding pattern similar to that imposed by the previous feeding schedule emerged immediately after food deprivation in two of the DD animals. Although these results are compatible with the existence of a food-entrainable pacemaker, the existence of a multioscillatory light-entrainable pacemaker with some oscillators entrained by food pulses and others free-running may explain our results.

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