Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

‘Round-the-clock’ lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, brain and behavior

Date:
February 27, 2011
Source:
Rockefeller University
Summary:
In Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud argued that modern society was hard on human psychology, forcing people to get along in unnaturally close quarters. Now newly published research points out a different discontent in the developed world, namely, the disruption of our natural sleep cycles, thanks to the ubiquity of electric lighting. Experiments on mice found that throwing off their evolutionarily ancient circadian rhythms by artificially altering the length of their days has a substantial impact on the body and the brain. The work suggests that our modern, round-the-clock lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, interfere with learning and impact behavior in ways that we're just beginning to understand.

Simple minded. Researchers found that disrupting the circadian cycles of mice led to changes in the top part of the complex dendritic tree of cortical neurons (above). These trees were less complex in animals thrown off their schedule.
Credit: Image courtesy of Rockefeller University

In Civilization and Its Discontents, Sigmund Freud argued that modern society was hard on human psychology, forcing people to get along in unnaturally close quarters. Now newly published research from The Rockefeller University points out a different discontent in the developed world, namely, the disruption of our natural sleep cycles, thanks to the ubiquity of electric lighting.

Experiments on mice, published this month in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that throwing off their evolutionarily ancient circadian rhythms by artificially altering the length of their days has a substantial impact on the body and the brain. The work suggests that our modern, round-the-clock lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, interfere with learning and impact behavior in ways that we're just beginning to understand.

Researchers led by Ilia Karatsoreos, a postdoc in Bruce S. McEwen's Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology, housed mice for 10 weeks in 20-hour light-dark cycles, at odds with their natural 24-hour circadian cycle. They found that after six weeks, the disrupted mice got fatter, showed less mental flexibility and were more impulsive than mice kept on their natural schedule. The findings were originally presented at a Society for Neuroscience's conference in 2009.

Looking ahead, Karatsoreos says, a main goal is to understand how this environmental disruption works at the biochemical level. "We are interested in how the light cycle changes affects 'clock genes' -- the actual molecular gears of the circadian clock within cells -- in different brain regions, particularly the prefrontal cortex, and how this translates to changes in the functioning of the cells in that region."

At the same time, the researchers are working to understand the changes at the cellular and molecular level of peripheral tissues, especially those involved in metabolism and energy usage, such as the liver and the adipose tissues.

"The circadian system is a 'web,' with rhythms at the molecular level driving rhythms at the cellular level, which results in rhythms at the tissue level," Karatsoreos says. "This can lead to a cascading set of effects throughout the whole organism, and we want to understand how exactly that happens."

The researchers believe that this cascade may affect how an individual, whether animal or human, responds to additional challenges to the immune or metabolic systems, such as infection or high fat food, both ubiquitous realities of modern life. They are also working on models to understand the impact of different kinds of light-dark shifting such as those experienced by flight crews, shift workers, military personnel and medical residents. "We want to know how different patterns affect the brain and body, and if they share similar mechanisms of action," says Karatsoreos.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. I. N. Karatsoreos, S. Bhagat, E. B. Bloss, J. H. Morrison, B. S. McEwen. Disruption of circadian clocks has ramifications for metabolism, brain, and behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2011; 108 (4): 1657 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1018375108

Cite This Page:

Rockefeller University. "‘Round-the-clock’ lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, brain and behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 27 February 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110226214132.htm>.
Rockefeller University. (2011, February 27). ‘Round-the-clock’ lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, brain and behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 17, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110226214132.htm
Rockefeller University. "‘Round-the-clock’ lifestyle could disrupt metabolism, brain and behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/02/110226214132.htm (accessed April 17, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Could Even Casual Marijuana Use Alter Your Brain?

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A new study conducted by researchers at Northwestern and Harvard suggests even casual marijuana use can alter your brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Thousands Of Vials Of SARS Virus Go Missing

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) A research institute in Paris somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials of the deadly SARS virus. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Formerly Conjoined Twins Released From Dallas Hospital

Newsy (Apr. 16, 2014) Conjoined twins Emmett and Owen Ezell were separated by doctors in August. Now, nearly nine months later, they're being released from the hospital. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Ebola Outbreak Now Linked To 121 Deaths

Newsy (Apr. 15, 2014) The ebola virus outbreak in West Africa is now linked to 121 deaths. Health officials fear the virus will continue to spread in urban areas. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins