Aggressive and sexual social stimuli do not phase shift the circadian temperature rhythm in rats

P Meerlo*, S Daan

*Corresponding author for this work

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The objective of the present study was to determine whether the rat circadian system is sensitive to social stimuli. Male rats were subjected to a sociosexual interaction with an estrous female or to an aggressive interaction with a dominant male conspecific. The interactions lasted for Ih and took place in the middle of the circadian resting phase. Control animals were picked up and handled for a few minutes, but were otherwise left undisturbed. Animals were housed under constant dim red light during the whole period of the experiment. To assess the effects of the interactions on free-running circadian rhythmicity, body temperature was measured by means of radio telemetry. Neither the sociosexual interaction with a female nor the aggressive interaction with another male induced phase shifts or changes in the free-running period. The rat circadian system does not seem to be sensitive to social stimuli directly. Moreover, the finding that aggressive interactions do not phase shift circadian rhythms indicates that the endogenous pacemaker in rats is not sensitive to stressors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-240
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • circadian rhythmicity
  • endogenous rhythms
  • free-running rhythms
  • nonphotic stimuli
  • social stimuli
  • sexual stimuli
  • aggression
  • stress
  • animal model
  • radiotelemtry
  • body temperature
  • activity rhythm
  • pacemaker
  • period
  • phase shifts

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