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How chronic jet lag affects the brain

 

Narrator:            This is Science Today. Chronic jet lag has been found to cause memory and learning problems that linger long after one's return to a regular 24-hour schedule. Lance Kriegsfeld, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, says even more surprising was their finding that chronic jet lag causes a significant reduction in the production of new neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain structure that's important for learning and memory.

Kriegsfeld:            Nobody's ever looked at whether new neuron information would be suppressed by this kind of insult and no one's looked past the time of the jet lag, which is one of the big interesting findings which is that anecdotally you'd think that OK, I fly from New York to Paris a couple of times, I feel like hell. You think that it's just because you're tired and your brain wants to sleep when you're trying to stay awake. But it's really more than that. It's actually changing the way your brain is functioning and the way that new cells are being added to your brain.

Narrator:             The next step is to figure out how to prevent these changes from occurring.  For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.