The suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus is considered to be a critical component of a neural oscillator system implicated in the timing of a wide variety of biological processes. The circadian cycles established by this biological clock occur throughout nature and have a period of approximately 24 h. With advancing age, however, these daily fluctuations deteriorate, leading to disrupted cycles with a reduced amplitude. In humans, age-related changes have been described for hormonal rhythms, body core temperature, sleep-wakefulness and several other behavioral cycles. It appears that the disruption of circadian rhythms and the increased incidence of disturbed sleep during aging are paralleled by age-related alterations in the neural and temporal organization of the SCN and a decreased photic input to the clock. The many lines of evidence of age-related decrements in circadian time-keeping and the observed neuronal degeneration of the SCN in senescence strongly suggest that the circadian pacemaker in the human brain becomes progressively disturbed during aging.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAgeing Research Reviews
Journal publication date2006

ID: 430566