Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting nature.com. You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.

Chronic 'jet lag' produces temporal lobe atrophy and spatial cognitive deficits

Abstract

Time-zone travelers encounter a pattern of light and darkness, and their endogenous circadian rhythms adapt to the new external time cue until both timing systems synchronize1, but the long-term repeated disturbance of synchronization between the two timing systems impairs physiological and psychological health and induces stress2. Salivary cortisol levels in cabin crew after repeated exposure to jet lag were significantly higher than after short distance flights3, and the higher cortisol levels were associated with cognitive deficits that were dependent on non-semantic stimuli3. The present study demonstrates that significant prolonged cortisol elevations produce reduced temporal lobe volume and deficits in spatial learning and memory; these cognitive deficits became apparent after five years of exposure to high cortisol levels.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Relevant articles

Open Access articles citing this article.

Access options

Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

$32.00

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: A series of four coronal MRI slices.
Figure 2: Two flight attendant groups were compared to assess the volume of the temporal lobe and visual spatial cognitive performance.

References

  1. Deacon, S. & Arendt, J. Physiol. Behav. 59, 665–673 (1996).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  2. Winget, C. M., DeRosha, C. W., Markley C. L. & Holley, D. C. Aviat. Space Environ. Med. 55, 1085–1096 (1984).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Cho, K., Ennaceur, A., Cole, J. C. & Suh, C. H. J. Neurosci. 20 (RC66), 1–5 (2000).

    Google Scholar 

  4. Porter, N. M. & Landfield, P. W. Nat. Neurosci. 1, 3–4 (1998).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  5. Lupien, S. L. et al. Nat. Neurosci. 1, 69–73 (1998).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Newcomer, J. W. et al. Arch. Gen. Psych. 56, 527–533 (1999).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  7. Abrahams, S. et al. Brain Cogn. 41, 39–65 (1999).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  8. Sapolsky, R. Stress, the Aging Brain, and the Mechanisms of Neuron Death (MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1992).

    Google Scholar 

  9. Nunn, J. A., Graydon, F. J. X., Polkey, C. E. & Morris, R. G. Brain 122, 47–59 (1999).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. Squire, L. R., Amaral, D. G. & Press, G. A. J. Neurosci. 10, 3106–3117 (1990).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, M. W. & Aggleton, J. P. Nat. Rev. Neurosci. 2, 51–61 (2001).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  12. Lupien, S. L. et al. J. Clin. Endocrinol. Metab. 82, 2070–2075 (1997).

    CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

Supported by the Royal Society. I thank M.W. Brown, C.H. Suh, M.K. Lim and S. Fitzjohn for their help with statistics and MRI analysis.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Kwangwook Cho.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cho, K. Chronic 'jet lag' produces temporal lobe atrophy and spatial cognitive deficits. Nat Neurosci 4, 567–568 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1038/88384

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1038/88384

This article is cited by

Search

Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing