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Approved Research

Chronotype and resting state connectivity

Principal Investigator: Dr Ray Norbury
Approved Research ID: 71741
Approval date: June 16th 2021

Lay summary

Humans display near 24 hour circadian rhythms that drive our preferences for wakefulness, periods of activity and sleep. Some people naturally prefer to rise early and go to bed early (morning larks) whereas others prefer to rise late and go to bed late (night owls) and increasing evidence suggests that these preferences in sleep and wake timing may impact aspects of cognitive function and physical and mental health. The human brain has a number of well recognised intrinsic functional neuronal networks that support a diverse range of functions including different types of memory and how we process emotional information and these can be explored using a particular type of brain scan called Resting Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging or Resting FMRI.

In this project, we will investigate Resting FMRI in morning larks and night owls using UK Biobank brain imaging data combined with numerous measures of lifestyle. We expect to demonstrate significant differences in resting functional connectivity between morning larks and night owls which may underlie the differences in emotional processing and some aspects of memory observed in these groups. We believe this is important for understanding how circadian rhythms impact on thinking and feeling and could inform interventions, such as flexible start times for work or university that better match individual circadian rhythm and may benefit individuals with a more evening orientation.