Our bodies and our moods are affected by the seasons. Cognitive function in older adults is also affected, according to a recent study of 3,353 seniors in Canada, France and the United States. Researchers tested participants’ thinking and concentration and measured Alzheimer’s disease-related proteins in their spinal fluid. They also conducted autopsies on those who died and looked at brain gene expression. The results show that thinking and concentration are worst in winter and spring for older adults with and without dementia. The gap between high scores in late summer and early fall and low scores in late winter and early spring was equivalent to an age difference of 4.8 years. Seasonal rhythms were also observed in the expression of specific genes and in proteins related to Alzheimer’s disease, which may provide a glimpse of the underlying mechanisms that affect changes in cognitive function. The researchers suggest that winter and early spring, when symptoms are more pronounced, may be the time to put more resources into dementia diagnosis. The understanding of underlying mechanisms may also open new pathways to treatment.
SOURCE: PLOS Medicine, September 8, 2018
DATE Retrieved: November 1, 2018