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     Shift work and other aspects of a busy lifestyle lead to people eating at times when the body is not geared to be expecting food. New research shows “midnight eating” can dull the memory.

The finding relates to studies conducted using mice. By varying the eating times for mice, scientists have shown that internal clocks wired in different regions of the brain begin working out of step if feeding times step outside from the norm.

This leads to an alteration to the,physiology of the brain, and learning and memory are particularly affected. The function of memory is controlled by the hippocampal area of the brain. The science group say there is a reasonable chance the same effects will occur with people.

Eating at strange hours, later into the night, has previously been linked with physiological ill-health (such as pre-diabetes). Scientists from the David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles were interested to explore the psychological impact.

By varying the times that mice eat at, the researchers assessed the ability of mice to recall a common object. Mice fed when they would normally be asleep saw a significant reduction in their long-term memory. Physiological examinations showed the process of memory formation, where nerve impulses are fired in the brain, were less effective with mice fed at night compared with a control group fed during the day.

It is thought a protein, associated with both learning and the circadian clock, called CREB (cAMP response element-binding protein),…

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