NPR logo

Scientists Find Internal Clock Sets at Mealtime

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90769113/90769097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Scientists Find Internal Clock Sets at Mealtime

Research News

Scientists Find Internal Clock Sets at Mealtime

Scientists Find Internal Clock Sets at Mealtime

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/90769113/90769097" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

It has been known for years that the brains of many organisms incorporate a "circadian clock" — a biological time-keeping mechanism that connects the body's rhythms to external light levels. The clock helps the body sync with changing daylight conditions.

This week, in the journal Science, researchers report that mice seem to have a second, independent circadian clock that syncs with food consumption — and it can overrule the regular light-based clock.

The food-synced clock, the researchers believe, could be used in nature to help animals adjust to hard times. Clifford Saper, one of the authors of the report, explains, "This new timepiece enables animals to switch their sleep and wake schedules in order to maximize their opportunity of finding food."

We no longer support commenting on NPR.org stories, but you can find us every day on Facebook, Twitter, email, and many other platforms. Learn more or contact us.