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article imageDangers of eating during sleep time

By Tim Sandle     Nov 30, 2014 in Health
Washington - A mouse study shows that eating at the wrong time of day impacts on the hippocampal function. This leads to strange behaviors and general unhealthiness. Could the same be true with people?
A new study has found that when mice are fed during the day, they are less likely to explore novel objects and remember fearful places. This is because mice are typically nocturnal animals and the reversal of the normal feeding time appears to affect brain function.
With the study, The Scientist reports, scientists gave mice access to food for six hours either during the day, when they are normally sleeping, or at night. The outcomes of such a varied feeding schedule was that it misaligned the clocks in the body. The theory is that the body’s master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus, entrains to light and is largely unaffected, as are other bodily clocks that take their cues from the sun or from the SCN. However, other endogenously rhythmic tissues, such as the liver, do seem to be affected, and become out of phase with the SCN and other, unaffected clocks.
Scientists have ascertained, as the research note indicates, that one of the affected clocks resides in the hippocampus. This is an important brain region for learning and memory. To examine further the impacts of this misalignment between the hippocampus and the body's other clocks, researchers tested the mice for their interest in exploring novel objects and their ability to remember a fearful enclosure. In contrast to the mice that had been fed at night, day-fed mice did not show heightened exploration of novel objects, and they were less likely to recall the scary experience of being shocked in a new enclosure.
It could be that the same applies to people. If so, these results in mice should give people pause for thought when thinking about their own schedules.
The findings were presented at a recent meeting of the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) conference in Washington, DC. The research was conducted by the University of California, Los Angeles.
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