Circadian Rhythms and Sleep: Implications for Cognition
Cognitive Science 200
All, 2016

Meeting for Enrolled Students: Fridays, 2:00-2:55

Lecture to which UCSD community is invited: 3:00 to 4:30

Both in Cognitive Science Building, Room 003

Professor: William Bechtel Office Hours: Wednesday, 3:30-4:50 and by appointment
Office: HSS 8076 Email:
Telephone: 822-4461 Wiki site:


This course focuses on two fundamental biological phenomena that have significant, but underappreciated, implications for cognition--circadian rhythms and sleep. The goal is to provide a broad introduction to the phenomena, mechanisms, and pathologies of circadian rhythms and sleep.While a good part of the readings and lectures will focus on experimental results addressing these phenomena the mechanisms underlying them, the goal for students is to identify the implications of this research for cognition. Perhaps the most obvious link between sleep and cognition involves the claims that sleep is important for memory consolidation. We will discuss this connection, but the focus is much broader, addressing how circadian rhythms and sleep affect different cognitive activities.

Cog Sci. 200 is structured around a series of lectures. These lectures are open to the entire UCSD communiity, but registered students are the primary audience and aare encouraged to be active in the discussions at the lectures. As preparation for the lectures, we will meet for an hour before the lecture to discuss papers relevant to the topic of the lecture.

For students with limited background on circadian rhythms,, a project being developed by undergraduate students at UCSD, may give useful background.

For thos with limited background on sleep, may provide a useful starting point.

Overview of Schedule



Topic of Talk

September 23 William Bechtel Introduction: Circadian and Sleep

1. Aguilar-Roblero, R. (2015). Introduction to Circadian Rhythms, Clocks, and Its Genes. In R. Aguilar-Roblero, M. Díaz-Muñoz & L. M. Fanjul-Moles (Eds.), Mechanisms of Circadian Systems in Animals and Their Clinical Relevance (pp. 1-12). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
2. de la Iglesia, H. O., & Lee, M. L. (2015). A Time to Wake, a Time to Sleep. In R. Aguilar-Roblero, M. Díaz-Muñoz & L. M. Fanjul-Moles (Eds.), Mechanisms of Circadian Systems in Animals and Their Clinical Relevance (pp. 197-217). Cham: Springer International Publishing.

September 30 Michael Gorman, Department of Psychology Ordinary and extraordinary circadian entrainment

1. Harrison, E. M., & Gorman, M. R. (2015). Rapid Adjustment of Circadian Clocks to Simulated Travel to Time Zones across the Globe. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 30, 557-562.
2. Gorman, M. R., Harrison, E. M., & Evans, Jennifer A. (in press). Circadian waveform and its significance for clock organization and plasticity. In V. Kumar (Ed.), Biological timekeeping: Clocks, rhythms and behaviour. India: Springer.

October 7 Elizabeth Harrison, Post-doctoral Fellow, Center for Circadian Biology How we challenge our clocks: Jet lag and shiftwork
1. Smith, M. R., & Eastman, C. I. (2012). Shift work: health, performance and safety problems, traditional countermeasures, and innovative management strategies to reduce circadian misalignment. Nat Sci Sleep, 4, 111-132
2. Harrison, E. M., & Gorman, M. R. (2012). Changing the waveform of circadian rhythms: considerations for shift-work. Front Neurol, 3, 72.
October 14 William Joiner, Department of Pharmacology The biological basis and functions of sleep regulation

1. Saper, C. B., Scammell, T. E., & Lu, J. (2005). Hypothalamic regulation of sleep and circadian rhythms. Nature, 437, 1257-1263.
2. Tononi, G., & Cirelli, C. (2014). Sleep and the Price of Plasticity: From Synaptic and Cellular Homeostasis to Memory Consolidation and Integration. Neuron, 81, 12-34.

October 21 David Welsh, Department of Psychiatry Cellular Circadian Clocks in Mood Disorders

1. McCarthy, M. J., & Welsh, D. K. (2012). Cellular Circadian Clocks in Mood Disorders. Journal of Biological Rhythms, 27, 339-352.
2. Landgraf, D., Long, J. E., Proulx, C. D., Barandas, R., Malinow, R., & Welsh, D. K. (2016). Genetic Disruption of Circadian Rhythms in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Causes Helplessness, Behavioral Despair, and Anxiety-like Behavior in Mice. Biol Psychiatry.

October 28

Timothy Rickard, Department of Psychology

Sleep and Memory Consolidation

1. Rickard, T. C., Cai, D. J., Rieth, C. A., Jones, J., & Ard, M. C. (2008). Sleep does not enhance motor sequence learning. J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn, 34, 834-842
2. Rasch, B., Buchel, C., Gais, S., & Born, J. (2007). Odor cues during slow-wave sleep prompt declarative memory consolidation. Science, 315, 1426-1429.

November 4 No Class  
November 11 University Holiday  
November 18

Daniel Kripke, Department of Psychiatry

How sleeping pills and night owls affect thinking and mood

1. Kripke D. F. (2016). Hypnotic drug risks of mortality, infection, depression, and cancer: but lack of benefit. F1000Research 2016, 5:918
2. Kripke, D. F. (2016). When our body clocks run late: does it make us depressed? Annals of Translational Medicine, 4, 178.

December 2 Sara Mednik, Department of Psychology, UC Riverside The role of specific sleep features in memory consolidation
1. Mednick SC, Walsh J, Wamsley E, Paulus M, Kanady JC, McDevitt EA, Drummond SPA. The critical role of sleep spindles in hippocampal-dependent memory: a pharmacology study. Journal of Neuroscience 2013 Mar 6; 33(10): 4494-504.
2. Niknazar M, Krishnan GP, Bazhenov M, Mednick SC, (2015). Coupling of Thalamocortical Sleep Oscillations Are Important for Memory Consolidation in Humans. PLoS One. 10(12). e0144720.

Course Requirements and Evaluation

This course should be taken for S/U grade only. If your need this course for the IDP program and your department requires a letter grade, you should negotiate appropriate course requirements with me. If, when grades must be submitted, you have signed up for a letter grade and have not made arrangments with me you will receive a C-, assuming you have completed the course requirements satisfactorily.

To receive an S, students are required to:

  1. Attend all class sessions, both the class-only meeting from 2:00 to 2:55 and the lecture from 3:00 to 4:30 and complete the readings assigned before each meeting. This is a necessary conditions and absences require a good justification and must be approved.
  2. For each week, prepare a 1-2 page essay responding to the assigned readings. This paper should be posted on the course wiki site ( by Wednesday at 5pm. In these essays you will be expected to engage one of the readings in a critical fashion. The goal is not to summarize the paper since everyone will have read the paper. Rather do one or more of the following or something similar: (1) identify ideas that you find novel and exciting, (2) show a way in which the claims or arguments of the paper might be questioned, or (3) shows some important implications or applications of the ideas in the paper.
  3. For each week, read and post a comment on the course wiki site on at least two other students' essays before class and participate in the discussion in class.