Ultradian Rhythms in Prolonged Human Performance.
Final rept. 1980-1981,
ARMY RESEARCH INST FOR THE BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCES ALEXANDRIA VA
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The recent wave of interest in rhythms in human behavior is erroneously attributed to the recent developments in the study of biological rhythms. In a recent historical review of the field of behavioral rhythmic research lavie1980 uncovered several independent roots of research unrelated to questions regarding the nature and functions of biological rhythms. One of those roots was the rather naive ambition of educational psychologists to schedule school hours according with the optimal times for cognitive functioning such as mathematics, reading, etc, on the one hand, and activities requiring psychomotor skills, on the other. This research which attracted quite a number of investigators around the turn of the century, died away around the mid 1920s. Recently it has been revived by the renewed interest in biological rhythms, sleep rhythms, and their interaction with behavior. The notion of an optimal schedule of human behavior is indeed an attractive one. In nature, optimal scheduling and synchronization of different behaviors with the geophysical environment is for many species a crucial survival issue. Displaying courting behavior at the wrong times of the year is dangerously maladaptive, while synchronization of courting and mating behavior with suitable environmental conditions ensures offspring survival.
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