New research that involved the examination of thousands of genes from nearly 150 human brains shows the circadian rhythm of gene activity changes with aging.
The findings from researchers at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine suggest that a biological clock begins ticking in the older brain.
A 24-hour circadian rhythm controls nearly all brain and body processes, such as the sleep/wake cycle, metabolism, alertness and cognition, explained senior investigator Colleen McClung, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry, Pitt School of Medicine.
“Studies have reported that older adults tend to perform complex cognitive tasks better in the morning and get worse through the day,” McClung said. “We know also that the circadian rhythm changes with aging, leading to awakening earlier in the morning, fewer hours of sleep and less robust body temperature rhythms.”