The changes in behavior that occur on a 24-hour basis to match the 24-hour changes in the physical environment due to the rotation of the earth on its axis are a hallmark of life on the planet Earth. The nervous system of both lower and higher organisms has evolved over millions of years to meet the demands of the dramatic changes in the physical environment that occur in relation to the changes in the light-dark cycle, optimizing the survival and reproductive success of the organism. During the past 50 years, it has been clearly established that the 24-hour nature of life was not simply a response to the 24-hour changes in the physical environment imposed by celestial mechanics, but instead was due to an internal timekeeping system in the brain. Many neurological disorders are associated with abnormal 24-hour rhythms, including the sleep-wake cycle. The recent discovery of the molecular basis of the neural clock in animals offers neurologists new avenues for studying the pathophysiology of neurological disorders.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- Clinical Neurology