It’s finally time to connect the pieces of the puzzle. Many studies have been conducted monitoring how thermoregulation is controlled by body temperature. We know a lot about what happens. Sadly, despite many efforts by scientists all over the world, we still seem to only have a vague notion of how this interaction occurs. Without the ability to really trace neuronal pathways and easy detect what signaling molecules are being used (neurotransmitter, hormones, etc.) it’s difficult to be given definitive answers. This blog entry will focus on describing what we observe about the relationship between thermoregulation and circadian rhythms.
To recap my previous blogs, my project over the summer was an attempt to find a way to fluorescently stain the neurons that we record from in the lab. The issues that we ran into were that it was very difficult to create a stain that would allow us to record from a live cell that was also stable enough to last through the fixation process. After doing some research on possible ways to stain neurons, I finally decided that the best way to solve our problem was to attempt to stain the cytoskeleton.
Originally, I had planned to simply do general research on thermoregulation on the hypothalamus. As the sumer progressed, however, my research interests narrowed significantly and a new project began to form. As a result, instead of discussing all of the general aspects of thermoregulation and the hypothalamus, I will discuss my new project in depth. For my first blog, I will start with a basic overview of thermoregulation and how we study it.
We humans are creatures of habit. Most of our normal activities (eating, sleeping, etc) are done at roughly the same time every day. This is not by coincidence. Our brains contain an internal clock which regulates a plethora of bodily functions. From hormone production and cell regeneration to brain wave activity and body temperature, all of them show a cyclical pattern coinciding with certain hours of the day. It’s actually essential to our survival, without balancing energy demands of sleeping, repair, and other processes it would be difficult for us to function properly. In fact, the idea of timing processes is so evolutionarily ancient, that it can even be seen in the simple fungus Neurospora. The fungus only conducts DNA replication at night to protect from UV radiation. Scientists call our 24 hour internal cycle our circadian rhythms.