The state of a persons internal body clock may play a strong role in their ability to learn and remember information, researchers claim.
A team at Stanford University studied the behavior of a group of hamsters whose circadian system had been disabled.
They found that the animals were unable to remember aspects of their environment, compared with hamsters that had a normally functioning circadian system.
According to the scientists, this effect was linked to the production of a neurochemical known as GABA, which is regulated by a persons body clock. Hamsters whose circadian systems were lost were constantly producing GABA, which inhibits brain activity.
Lead author Dr. Norman Ruby said the findings, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, could contribute to the development of new health resources for memory problems.
“It might be that the degradation of circadian rhythms in elderly people may contribute to their short-term memory problems,” he added.
A recent study, published in Neurology, linked degrading short-term memory to the shrinking volume of the brain hippocampus.