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Approved research

Imaging chronotype: exploring the anatomical correlates of circadian preference.

Principal Investigator: Dr Ray Norbury
Approved Research ID: 30833
Approval date: October 16th 2018

Lay summary

Circadian rhythms drive our preferences for wakefulness, periods of activity and sleep and increasing evidence suggests that late chronotype is a risk factor for depression. Acute depression and risk for depression are associated with reduced hippocampal volume and may, therefore, reflect a neural vulnerability marker for this disorder. The aim of the current proposal is to explore hippocampal volume in a large sample and relate this to chronotype. It is hypothesised that, similar to depressed patients, late chronotype will be associated with reduced hippocampal volume which may, in part, confer risk for future depression in these individuals. Recent years have seen major advances in the availability of shared neuroimaging data which is essential to increasing the speed of scientific discovery and maximising value from public investment. The UK Biobank hosts the world?s largest cohort of neuroimaging data (> 10,000 participants) plus numerous measures of lifestyle etc. including circadian preference. The current proposal will take advantage of this large neuroimaging database to better understand why late chronotypes are at increased for developing depression and the findings may have important theoretical and clinical implications for the prevention and treatment of depression and open up avenues for further research. Magnetic Resonance Imaging data, chronotype, age, gender, handedness, depression status and neuroticism scores will be requested. Hippocampal volume will be derived using freely available software and the relationship between chronotype and hippocampal volume analysed using regression techniques. It is anticipated that data from the entire neuroimaging cohort will be used (> 10,000 data sets)