Jetlag causes memory loss

A recent study published in the journal PLOS One shows that jetlag and other interruptions to circadian rhythms such as experienced by flight attendants, medical workers, rotating shift workers, can cause long term impacts on cognitive behaviour and function. Impacts can include tiredness and forgetfulness for up to a month after flying or changing work shifts from night time back to day time.

The study subjected hamsters to six hour changes in schedule and compared them with well rested hamsters. The disrupted ones had trouble learning simple tasks that the others managed easily, and these difficulties remained for up to one month after returning to a normal schedule.
Hamsters were chosen because of the precise nature of their circadian rhythms, far more so than humans and other mammals.

Changes to the hippocampus

Researched were able to track a major drop, around 50%, in new neurones in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for memory.
"Our study shows directly that jet lag decreases neurogenesis in the hippocampus," says graduate student Erin Gibson who took part in the study.

Shift workers and frequent long distance travellers have already been found to have decreased reactions times along with higher incidences of diabetes, heart disease, hypertensions and cancer plus reduced fertility.

The study's author, Associate Professor Lance Kriegsfeld of the University of California at Berkeley, advises allowing one day of recovery for every one hour time zone shift, a kind of psychic decompression zone.

Summarised for from Jet-lag causes long term memory loss published 25/11/10

Related to - Recent health research | Health news

By Mark O'Brien

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