Brain scans show that people’s short-term memory is generally best in fall (autumn) and worst in spring.
In mid-December, though, people’s attention skills are at their lowest ebb.
Attention doesn’t come up to full strength until June.
Dr Gilles Vandewalle, one of the study’s authors, said that the causes are likely down to multiple factors, but:
“…we may be tuned to lower brain activity in winter, and that could cause changes in brain activity.
But in modern society we are similarly active throughout the year.”
It could also be that people who experience seasonally affected disorder may be particularly vulnerable to changes in cognition over the year.
The new research had 28 men and women visit the lab at different times of the year to take various tests.
Both brain scans and behavioural tests were used.
Only the brain scans showed the differences, not the behavioural tests.
The study was published in the journal PNAS (Meyer et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Noukka Signe