Brain function at different times of the year

Demi-season is the time when people notice a change in mood and a drop in energy. This condition is familiar to many and is scientifically called Seasonal Affective Disorder Syndrome. Scientists conducted research on this syndrome relatively recently, in the 1980s.

Everyone knows about the “side effects” of winter on some people. Deterioration of mood, a tendency to depression, in some cases, even a weakening of the function of the mind. However, new research is challenging the popular notion of the psychological effects winter has on people. One such experiment, conducted among 34 US residents, was published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science. He challenged the very assumption that depression symptoms worsen during the winter months. The researchers, led by Professor Stephen LoBello at the University of Montgomery, asked participants to complete a questionnaire about symptoms of depression during the previous two weeks. It is important to note that participants filled out the survey at different times of the year, which helped to draw a conclusion about seasonal dependencies. Contrary to expectations, the results showed no relationship between depressive moods and the winter period or any other time of the year.

Neurologists, led by Christel Meyer from the University of Belgium, conducted a study among 28 young men and women at different times of the year in order to collect and process information about their mood, emotional state and ability to concentrate. The level of melatonin was also measured and a couple of psychological problems were proposed. One of the tasks was to test vigilance (concentration) by pressing a button as soon as a stopwatch randomly appears on the screen. Another task was the evaluation of RAM. Participants were offered a recording of excerpts from letters, played back as a continuous stream. The task was for the participant to determine at what point the recording would start repeating. The purpose of the experiment is to reveal the relationship between brain activity and the season.

According to the results, concentration, emotional state and melatonin levels were mostly independent of the season. Participants coped with the tasks equally successfully regardless of this or that season. In terms of basic brain function, participants’ neural activity was highest in the spring and lowest in the fall. Brain activity in the winter period was observed at an average level. The suggestion that our mental function does indeed increase in winter is backed up by research from the late 90s. Researchers at the University of Tromsø in Norway conducted an experiment on 62 participants on a range of tasks during winter and summer. The place for such an experiment was chosen quite well: the temperatures in summer and winter have a significant variation. Tromsø is located more than 180 miles north of the Arctic Circle, which means that there is practically no sunlight in the winter, and in the summer, on the contrary, there are no nights as such.

After a series of experiments, the researchers found a slight difference in seasonal values. However, those values ​​that had a significant difference turned out to be an advantage … winter! During the winter, participants performed better in tests of reaction speed, as well as in the Stroop test, where it is necessary to name the color of the ink with which the word is written as quickly as possible (for example, the word “blue” is written in red ink, etc.). Only one test showed the best results in the summer, and that is the fluency of speech.

Summing up, we can assume that . Many of us, for obvious reasons, find it difficult to endure winter with its long dark evenings. And after listening for a long time about how winter contributes to lethargy and sadness, we begin to believe it. However, we have reason to believe that winter itself, as a phenomenon, is not only not the cause of weakened brain function, but also the time when the brain works in an enhanced mode.

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