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Definition of Zeitgeber

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Updated February 18, 2014

Definition: From the German for “time giver,” it refers to any external cue that can entrain (or reset) the time-keeping system of organisms. In humans, this circadian system, or biological clock, is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus within the hypothalamus of the brain. These cues follow a periodic pattern, and one of the strongest cues is the pattern of light and darkness.
Examples:
Light is the principal zeitgeber that controls the biological clock.
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