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Prog Brain Res. 2012;199:267-80. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-59427-3.00016-2.

In search of a temporal niche: social interactions.

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Department of Neurology, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, MA, USA.


Circadian rhythms can be entrained to periodic cues in the environment including the solar day, food resources, and temperature. Work on a variety of organisms has suggested that social interactions within and between species may also influence circadian rhythmicity, but conceptual and technical difficulties relating to animal models, housing environments, rhythm assays, and experimental design have complicated mechanistic investigations in the laboratory. We review these issues and introduce the gregarious Nile grass rat, Arvicanthis niloticus, as a suitable model for research on this problem. Understanding social influences on temporal organization at this supra-organismal, community level is of considerable translational value, as its implications range from conservation biology to human health.

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