A phase dynamics model of human circadian rhythms

Mitsuyuki Nakao, Keisuke Yamamoto, Ken Ichi Honma, Satoko Hashimoto, Sato Honma, Norihiro Katayama, Mitsuaki Yamamoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Nonphotic entrainment of an overt sleep-wake rhythm and a circadian pacemaker-driving temperature/melatonin rhythm suggests existence of feedback mechanisms in the human circadian system. In this study, the authors constructed a phase dynamics model that consisted of two oscillators driving temperature/melatonin and sleep-wake rhythms, and an additional oscillator generating an overt sleep-wake rhythm. The feedback mechanism was implemented by modifying couplings between the constituent oscillators according to the history of correlations between them. The model successfully simulated the behavior of human circadian rhythms in response to forced rest-activity schedules under free-run situations: the sleep-wake rhythm is reentrained with the circadian pacemaker after release from the schedule, there is a critical period for the schedule to fully entrain the sleep-wake rhythm, and the forced rest-activity schedule can entrain the circadian pacemaker with the aid of exercise. The behavior of human circadian rhythms was reproduced with variations in only a few model parameters. Because conventional models are unable to reproduce the experimental results concerned here, it was suggested that the feedback mechanisms included in this model underlie nonphotic entrainment of human circadian rhythms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)476-489
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002 Oct 1


  • Advancing and delaying reentrainments
  • Critical period for entrainment
  • Feedback mechanism
  • Forced rest-activity schedule
  • Nonphotic entrainment


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