Neural programming of seasonal physiology in birds and mammals: a modular perspective

Stevenson, T. J. , Liddle, T. A., Stewart, C., Marshall, C. J. and Majumdar, G. (2022) Neural programming of seasonal physiology in birds and mammals: a modular perspective. Hormones and Behavior, 142, 105153. (doi: 10.1016/j.yhbeh.2022.105153) (PMID:35325691)

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Most animals in the temperate zone exhibit robust seasonal rhythms in neuroendocrine, physiological and behavioral processes. The integration of predictive and supplementary environmental cues (e.g., nutrients) involves a series of discrete, and interconnected brain regions that span hypothalamic, thalamic, mesencephalic, and limbic regions. Species-specific adaptive changes in these neuroendocrine structures and cellular plasticity have likely evolved to support seasonal life-history transitions. Despite significant advances in our understanding of ecological responses to predictive and supplementary environmental cues, there remains a paucity of literature on how these diverse cues impact the underlying neural and cellular substrates. To date, most scientific approach has focused on neuroendocrine responses to annual changes in daylength, referred to as photoperiod, due to the robust physiological changes to light manipulations in laboratory settings. In this review, we highlight the relatively few animal models that have been effectively used to investigate how predictive day lengths, and supplementary cues are integrated across hypothalamic nuclei, and discuss key findings of how seasonal rhythms in physiology are governed by adaptive neuroendocrine changes. We discuss how specific brain regions integrate environmental cues to form a complex multiunit or ‘modular’ system that has evolved to optimize the timing of seasonal physiology. Overall, the review aims to highlight the existence of a modular network of neural regions that independently contribute to timing seasonal physiology. This paper proposes that a multi-modular neuroendocrine system has evolved in which independent neural ‘units’ operate to support species-specific seasonal rhythms.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Marshall, Dr Christopher and Stevenson, Dr Tyler and Majumdar, Dr Gaurav
Authors: Stevenson, T. J., Liddle, T. A., Stewart, C., Marshall, C. J., and Majumdar, G.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Biodiversity, One Health & Veterinary Medicine
Journal Name:Hormones and Behavior
ISSN (Online):1095-6867
Published Online:21 March 2022
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2022 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Hormones and Behavior 142:105153
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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