Seasonality of cognitive function in the general population: the Rotterdam Study

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Seasonal variation in cognitive function and underlying cerebral hemodynamics in humans has been suggested, but not consistently shown in previous studies. We assessed cognitive function in 10,276 participants from the population-based Rotterdam Study, aged 45 years and older without dementia, at baseline and at subsequent visits between 1999 and 2016. Seasonality of five cognitive test scores and of a summary measure of global cognition were determined, as well as of brain perfusion. Using linkage with medical records, we also examined whether a seasonal variation was present in clinical diagnoses of dementia. We found a seasonal variation of global cognition (0.05 standard deviations [95% confidence interval: 0.02–0.08]), the Stroop reading task, the Purdue Pegboard test, and of the delayed world learning test, with the best performance in summer months. In line with these findings, there were fewer dementia diagnoses of dementia in spring and summer than in winter and fall. We found no seasonal variation in brain perfusion. These findings support seasonality of cognition, albeit not explained by brain perfusion.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
Issue number1
Early online date8 Nov 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Rotterdam Study is supported by Erasmus MC and Erasmus University Rotterdam; the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research; the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw); the Research Institute for Diseases in the Elderly; the Netherlands Genomics Initiative; the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science; the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sports; European Commission; and the Municipality of Rotterdam. None of the funders had any role in study design; study conduct; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; and preparation, review, or approval of the article. This study was partly performed as part of the Netherlands Consortium of Dementia Cohorts (NCDC), which receives funding in the context of Deltaplan Dementie from ZonMW Memorabel (project number 73305095005) and Alzheimer Nederland. The funding sources had no role in study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, writing of the report, or decision to submit the article for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, The Author(s).


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