How Different Seasons Affect The Way Your Brain Works

You’ve probably experienced fluctuating moods with the seasons, but there’s a good chance you never realized that your brain activity also differs based on seasonal changes — varying between spring, summer, fall and winter — as a new study has shown.

The Belgian study, published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, finds that the brain utilizes its resources differently to perform the same cognitive tasks depending on what season it is.

“Seasonal fluctuations are important in animals,” Dr. Gilles Vandewalle, a neuroscientist at the University of Liege and the study’s lead author, told The Huffington Post in an email. “Mood and immunity are well known to change with seasons in humans and there are indications that several brain aspects could also be seasonal.”

Mood and immunity are well known to change with seasons in humans and there are indications that several brain aspect could also be seasonal.”

For the study, the researchers measured brain function in 28 Belgian adults during all four seasons of the year. At each session, the participants spent four- and-a-half days in a lab, without access to the outside world or to sunlight — so they were completely sheltered from seasonal cues. After that time period, the participants’ brains were scanned while they completed a task requiring sustained attention, and another task requiring them to exercise their working memory.

Their test scores did not change at different times of the year, however the neural “cost” of that performance differed. In the summer, brain activity peaked on the attention tasks. During the winter, they used significantly less brain activity involved in attention. On the memory task, brain activity peaked in autumn and hit a low in the spring.

So, the brain is more active in the summer when attention tasks are —> Read More

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