The Nocturnal Brain

Nocturnal BrainIf you find that writing that 10 page essay is easier at night, you might be on to something. Postgraduate Martin Sale and his research colleagues at the University of Adelaide concluded that the brain’s ability to learn is influenced by the time of the day – and something you can take from the study is that the brain is more effective at learning things in the evening.

The team aimed to identify the time of the day where learning was at its maximum potential to be able to target the best time for rehabilitation therapy in stroke patients.

If the brains of stroke patients can be stimulated in a way that promotes optimal learning,
recovery may be not only faster, but also better.
Martin Sale,
Lead Researcher of the Study

During the experiment, a magnetic coil was used to induce brain activity. It was discovered that how well the brain reacted to a presented stimulus depended on the time of the day. There were larger changes induced when the experiment was performed in the evening, than the experiments performed in the morning. The study supported the team’s hypotheses, but not surprisingly.

It’s not unusually to have variations in brain functions throughout the day. Organisms adapt to continual changes to survive. For example, an organism might be more active during the night to be wary of predators. This is similar to the circadian rhythms in humans
and are governed by the release of hormones.

Martin Sale

There has also been some recent research that shows results that “evening people” – people working mainly in the evening, are correlated with higher intelligence. Hey, I’m not saying I’m intelligent, as I jot this article down at 3:00 am in the morning, I’m simply reporting news!

So you might want to start doing more of your work that involves heavier thinking during the evening, as the study suggests. And if you’re one of those who are already doing this anyway, keep doing it. You’re doing it right. For me, though, whiskey and coffee, or a lethal combination of both, works as well.

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