The overall goal is to specify environmental and endogenous factors that control seasonal rhythms of mammals. We seek to 1) characterize a novel melatonin-independent seasonal timing mechanism and its relation to the melatonin-dependent interval timer 2) specify which melatonin target tissues in the diencephalon control seasonal rhythms of behavior 3) determine whether the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus mediates seasonal changes in sensitivity to steroid hormones and 4) identify the hypothalamic substrate essential for encoding day length information. Syrian and Turkish hamsters are the model species used in this research. By means of peripheral and central hormone administration and selective ablations of melatonin target tissues we hope to determine the central nervous system substrates for seasonal rhythms. Seasonal mood changes, suicide, changes in appetite and activity levels are but a few of the well known examples of seasonal rhythms in human behavior. The proximate causes of human rhythms remain largely unknown. The proposed research will help establish a conceptual framework for investigations of human chronobiology. Studies of photoperiodic control of seasonal rhythms also address a fundamental question in regulatory biology; seasonal timing is crucial to individual survival and reproduction of most vertebrates and an understanding of these phenomena is of potential value in controlling and preserving animal populations.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
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Biological Rhythms and Sleep Study Section (BRS)
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Vicentic, Aleksandra
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University of California Berkeley
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Jarjisian, Stephan G; Piekarski, David J; Place, Ned J et al. (2013) Dorsomedial hypothalamic lesions block Syrian hamster testicular regression in short day lengths without diminishing increased testosterone negative-feedback sensitivity. Biol Reprod 89:23
Beery, Annaliese K; Zucker, Irving (2011) Sex bias in neuroscience and biomedical research. Neurosci Biobehav Rev 35:565-72
Beery, A K; Zucker, I (2010) Oxytocin and same-sex social behavior in female meadow voles. Neuroscience 169:665-73
Butler, Matthew P; Turner, Kevin W; Park, Jin Ho et al. (2010) Seasonal regulation of reproduction: altered role of melatonin under naturalistic conditions in hamsters. Proc Biol Sci 277:2867-74
Paul, Matthew J; Tuthill, Christiana; Kauffman, Alexander S et al. (2010) Pelage insulation, litter size, and ambient temperature impact maternal energy intake and offspring development during lactation. Physiol Behav 100:128-34
Beery, Annaliese K; Routman, David M; Zucker, Irving (2009) Same-sex social behavior in meadow voles: Multiple and rapid formation of attachments. Physiol Behav 97:52-7
Butler, Matthew P; Zucker, Irving (2009) Seasonal pelage changes are synchronized by simulated natural photoperiods in Siberian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus). J Exp Zool A Ecol Genet Physiol 311:475-82
Beery, Annaliese K; Paul, Matthew J; Routman, David M et al. (2008) Maternal photoperiodic history affects offspring development in Syrian hamsters. J Biol Rhythms 23:445-55
Beery, Annaliese K; Loo, Theresa J; Zucker, Irving (2008) Day length and estradiol affect same-sex affiliative behavior in the female meadow vole. Horm Behav 54:153-9
Butler, Matthew P; Turner, Kevin W; Zucker, Irving (2008) A melatonin-independent seasonal timer induces neuroendocrine refractoriness to short day lengths. J Biol Rhythms 23:242-51

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