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Psychiatry Res. 2000 Mar 6;93(2):145-51.

Diurnal variation in spontaneous eye-blink rate.

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Department of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science, Section of Psychiatry, University Federico II, Naples, Italy.


The daily pattern of spontaneous eye-blink rate (BR), a non-invasive peripheral measure of central dopamine activity, was investigated in 24 healthy subjects. The spontaneous eye-blink rate showed a stable pattern in morning, midday and afternoon hours. A significant increase was found at the evening time point (20.30 h). The finding is suggestive of a late evening increase of central dopamine activity. An increased level of subjective sleepiness was also found at the same evening point, at a time corresponding to the 'evening wake maintenance zone' or the 'forbidden zone for sleep'. A possible hypothesis is that the 'forbidden zone for sleep' may reflect a dopamine-mediated activation that counteracts a rising sleep drive. The role of diurnal variation of dopamine function should be considered both in the choice of the drug treatment regimen, and in the evaluation of biological and neuropsychological parameters.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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