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Nonphotic Phase Shifting in the Old and the Cold

Nonphotic Phase Shifting in the Old and the Cold


When confined to novel running wheels or when given injections of triazolam in their home cages, old hamsters do not become as active as young hamsters. Therefore, lack of nonphotic phase shifting following such manipulations may stem from insufficient activity or arousal. Phase advances can be obtained in some 10-month-old animals when wheel running during the pulse is increased by the presence of females in estrous condition and in most 18-month-old hamsters by combining confinement to a novel wheel with triazolam injections. These data suggest that there is relatively little if anything wrong in aging hamsters with the nonphotic phase-shifting mechanism itself. The reason why in certain situations old hamsters do not shift appears to be because the nonphotic inputs to these shifting mechanisms are not strong enough. However, when running in novel wheels is increased by carrying out the tests at cold temperatures, most old animals did not show subsequent phase shifts. Evidently it is not running per se that is critical for phase shifts, but probably the motivational context for such running.
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