Daily rhythms in neural activity underlie circadian rhythms in sleep-wake and other daily behaviors. The cells within the mammalian suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) are intrinsically capable of 24-h timekeeping. These cells synchronize with each other and with local environmental cycles to drive coherent rhythms in daily behaviors. Recent studies have identified a small number of neuropeptides critical for this ability to synchronize and sustain coordinated daily rhythms. This review highlights the roles of specific intracellular and intercellular signals within the SCN that underlie circadian synchrony.
- Period gene
- Suprachiasmatic nucleus
- Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide