LOS ANGELES: Shift workers are at greater risk of suffering memory problems due to their irregular patterns of eating, experts have warned.
Those who typically eat late at night can experience trouble recalling information and learning.
Midnight snacking increases the risk of altering the brain’s physiology, scientists warned.
Eating at times typically reserved for sleeping can lead to deficiencies in learning and memory, they found.
These changes occur in the hippocampal area of the brain the area that’s linked to memory formation and storage, and emotion.
Scientists from the University of California, Los Angeles set out to investigate the cognitive effects of eating at inappropriate hours.
It was already known that such eating habits can have an impact on metabolic health and lead to a pre-diabetic state.
Dr Dawn Loh of the UCLA Laboratory of Circadian and Sleep Medicine, said: “We have provided the first evidence that taking regular meals at the wrong time of day has far reaching effects for learning and memory.”
‘Since many people find themselves working or playing during times when they’d normally be asleep it is important to know that this could dull some of the functions of the brain.’
The researchers tested the ability of mice to recognize a novel object.
They found that mice fed during their sleep time were significantly less able to recall the object.
The scientists also subjected the mice to a fear conditioning experiment.
They found that the mice’s long term memory was also drastically reduced.
Both long term memory and the ability to recognize a novel object are governed by the hippocampus, the researchers said.
The hippo-campus also affects the ability to associate senses and emotional experiences with memory and our ability to organize and store new memories.
Nerve impulses are active along specific pathways during an experience.