Continuous monitoring of wheel-running activity and determination of the time of ovulation in rats by serial laparotomies revealed that ovulation followed the onset of running at prooestrus by approximately 9 h (range 7–11 h). This temporal relationship held in rats in which the period of the circadian rhythm had been modified (entrained) by daily exposure to 14 h photoperiods, and in rats in dim continuous light whose rhythms were non-entrained (freerunning). Knowledge of this temporal relationship between the two rhythms made it possible to give bright light signals at known points in the circadian cycle of the rat and to observe the effects on the timing of running and ovulation in subsequent cycles. Giving daily light signals near the onset of running (i.e. at subjective dusk) delayed, whereas giving signals near the end of running (i.e. at subjective dawn) advanced, the time of running and ovulation in subsequent cycles. These results indicate that in rats exposed to the usual laboratory photoperiod the delaying effect of dusk light and the advancing effect of dawn light balance one another; thus the preovulatory surge of LH occurs at a relatively consistent time at prooestrus.
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