Eating at times normally reserved for sleep causes a deficiency in the type of learning and memory controlled by the hippocampal area of the brain, researchers said.
Long-term memory was also dramatically reduced, demonstrated during a fear conditioning experiment. Both long-term memory and the ability to recognise a novel object are governed by the hippocampus.
The hippocampus plays an important role in our ability to associate senses and emotional experiences with memory and our ability to organise and store new memories.
However, this effect was reduced when food was made available to mice during a six-hour window in the middle of their normal sleep time instead of a six-hour daytime window when the mice were active.
In the mice fed at the wrong time, the total activity of CREB throughout the hippocampus was significantly reduced, with the strongest effects in the day.
However, the master pacemaker of the circadian system, the suprachiasmatic nucleus located in the hypothalamus, is unaffected.
This leads to desynchrony between the clocks in the different brain regions (misalignment), which the researchers suggest underlies the memory impairment.

Eating at the wrong time also disrupted sleep patterns. It resulted in the loss of the normal day/night difference in the amount of sleep although the total time spent asleep over 24 hours was not changed.
Sleep became fragmented, with the mice grabbing more short naps throughout the day and night.
The study was published in the journal eLife.


Latest News from Lifestyle News Desk