Circadian entrainment by food and drugs of abuse

Andrea G. Gillman, George V. Rebec, Norman C. Pecoraro, Ann E.K. Kosobud

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

3 Scopus citations


Circadian rhythms organize behavior and physiological processes to be appropriate to the predictable cycle of daily events. These rhythms are entrained by stimuli that provide time of day cues (zeitgebers), such as light, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle and associated rhythms. But other events, including meals, social cues, and bouts of locomotor activity, can act as zeitgebers. Recent evidence shows that most organs and tissues contain cells that are capable of some degree of independent circadian cycling, suggesting the circadian system is broadly and diffusely distributed. Within laboratory studies of behavior, circadian rhythms tend to be treated as a complication to be minimized, but they offer a useful model of predictable shifts in behavioral tendencies. In the present review, we summarize the evidence that formed the basis for a hypothesis that drugs of abuse can entrain circadian rhythms and describe the outcome of a series of experiments designed to test that hypothesis. We propose that such drug-entrained rhythms may contribute to demonstrated daily variations in drug metabolism, tolerance, and sensitivity to drug reward. Of particular importance, these rhythms may be evoked by a single episode of drug taking, strengthen with repeated episodes, and re-emerge after long periods of abstinence, thereby contributing to drug abuse, addiction, and relapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)23-28
Number of pages6
JournalBehavioural Processes
StatePublished - Aug 2019


  • Circadian rhythm
  • Drug abuse
  • Entrainable oscillators
  • Feeding

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

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