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Professor Russell Foster, professor of circadian neuroscience at the University of Oxford, writes about our biological clocks and possible links to mental illness that are emerging: ‘Our lives are ruled by time and we use time to tell us what to do. But the digital alarm clock that wakes us in the morning and the wrist-watch that tells us we are late for a meeting are not the clocks I mean. Our biology dances to a profoundly more ancient beat that probably started to tick early in the evolution of all life.’ (The Guardian, 22/07/2013)

Waking up to the link between a faulty body clock and mental illness

Sleep disturbances and disruptions in daily (‘circadian’) rhythms are common features of many psychiatric illnesses. There is now increasing interest in the possibility that they may also contribute to their onset. Researchers in the Department (Guy Goodwin, Dan Freeman and Paul Harrison) are part of a recent five year Wellcome Trust strategic award to establish the Oxford Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute to investigate this question. The work is led by Professor Russell Foster in the Nuffield Department of Clinical Neurosciences, and also includes colleagues in other Departments investigating experimental models of circadian disruption, and novel methods to monitor it. 


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