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Chronobiol Int. 1994 Apr;11(2):103-12.

The effect of old age on the free-running period of circadian rhythms in rat.

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Netherlands Institute for Brain Research, Amsterdam.


The free-running period is regarded to be an exclusive feature of the endogenous circadian clock. Changes during aging in the free-running period may therefore reflect age-related changes in the internal organization of this clock. However, the literature on alterations in the free-running period in aging is not unequivocal. In the present study, with various confounding factors kept to a minimum, it was found that the free-running periods for active wakefulness, body temperature, and drinking behavior were significantly shorter (by 12-17 min) in old than in young rats. In addition, it was found that the day-to-day stability of the different sleep states was reduced in old rats, whereas that of the drinking rhythm was enhanced. Transient cycles were not observed, nor were there any age-related differences in daily totals of the various sleep-wake states. The amplitudes of the circadian rhythms of active wakefulness, quiet sleep, and temperature were reduced, whereas those of paradoxical sleep and quiet wakefulness remained unchanged.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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