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Biol Reprod. 1985 Sep;33(2):353-62.

Development of hamster circadian rhythms. I. Within-litter synchrony of mother and pup activity rhythms at weaning.


The circadian wheel-running activity rhythms of individual hamster pups raised and maintained in constant dim light were measured beginning at 18 days of age. Records of the postweaning free-running activity rhythm were used to determine the phase of a pup's rhythm on the day of weaning and its phase relationship to its mother's rhythm. Although raised in constant light, the rhythms of pups within a litter were approximately synchronous and in phase with their mother's activity rhythm. These results indicate that the circadian oscillator underlying the activity rhythm is functional prior to weaning and is entrained by some as yet unidentified aspect of maternal rhythmicity. Furthermore, the results suggest that even in the absence of external entraining cycles, behavioral rhythms, and perhaps physiologic rhythms as well, of a mother and her offspring are normally synchronized.

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