Traveling a long distances for the holidays?  A recent study at the University of California, Berkeley, found that chronic jet lag causes memory loss and learning problems.  Psychologists conducted a trial that subjected hamsters to 6-hour time shifts twice a week for four weeks and then compared the jet-lagged hamsters’ performance on learning and memory tasks to a control group.  The results showed that the jet-lagged hamsters had more trouble with their tasks during the second half of the jet lag period and for more than a month after returning to their normal schedules.

The researchers also found that the hamsters had persistent changes in the part of the brain that controls memory processing, the hippocampus.  As Lance Kriegsfeld, an associate professor of psychology, explained “[jet lag] leads to a reduction in the number of neurons that are added to the adult brain and these new neurons are critical for the formation of certain types of new memories.”  Hamster or human, for this holiday season and beyond, Kriegsfeld suggests that the best way to beat short-term jet lag effects is to allow for one full day of recovery for every hour shift in the time zone you’ve experienced.

Photo by visual.dichotomy.

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About The Author

Christie Erdman, a guest contributor to the Healthy Travel blog, is a recent graduate of the University of Richmond with a degree in Economics and Marketing. She enjoys traveling, and had the opportunity to spend a semester studying at Universita Bocconi in Milan, Italy during her junior year.

1 Comment

  1. Wow, i had no idea that was a side effect.

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