April 8, 2022
The research group led by Ali Salehinejad and Michael Nitsche published the paper „Cognitive functions and underlying parameters of human brain physiology are associated with chronotype“ in Nature Communications in summer 2021. In it, the researchers conclude that chronotype influences human brain functions from basic physiological mechanisms to higher cognitive functions, such as perception, learning or thinking. Nature Communications has now announced that this paper is among the Top 25 most downloaded articles in the field of social sciences and human behaviour published in 2021.
The most important circadian rhythm, the ability of organisms to synchronise physiological processes to a cycle of about 24 hours, is the sleep-wake rhythm. The circadian rhythm in humans has natural differences between individuals, known as chronotype. Which chronotype a person is depends on their individual internal clock and is often referred to as morning and evening type. This internal clock determines when in the course of a day physical or mental activities tend to produce the best results. The classification into morning and evening people is also associated with a specific physiological, behavioural and also genetic expressions. However, whether and how chronotype influences human brain physiology and cognition is not yet fully understood.
The Department of Psychology & Neurosciences at IfADo therefore explores how performance and the reception, processing and storage of information are related to the early and late chronotype of humans, and how this is controlled by physiological processes. In the study which is now published, Ali Salehinejad, Michael Nitsche and their colleagues found that motor learning and cognitive abilities are significantly better at the individually preferred time compared to the non-preferred time of day. Furthermore, this is accompanied by specific physiological factors important for cognitive functions, such as excitability, and plasticity of the brain. This means that the chronotype does influence human brain functions in a specific way from basic physiological mechanisms to behaviour and cognitive functions.
Dr. Ali Salehinejad
Research Associate Psychology & Neurosciences
Phone: +49 231 1084-476
Univ.-Prof. Dr. med. Michael Nitsche
Head of Department Psychology & Neurosciences
Phone: +49 231 1084-301
Phone: +49 231 1084-239