AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Does The Time of Day Control Memory Ability?

Researchers University of Tokyo Department of Applied Biological Chemistry have found evidence that the time of day may influence one’s forgetfulness. They were able to study this by identifying and studying a gene in mice that controls memory. 

The key to their research was making a test that differentiates between never learning information versus not remembering information. To ensure that the mice learned new information, the mice were given a new object and then given the same object later in the day. The mice were considered to have “learned” new information if they spent less time exploring the new object. 

Researchers repeated this experiment with mice that had BMAL1 and with mice that did not have BMAL1. BMAL1 is a protein that controls different genes and normally fluctuates between high and low levels. Through tests, researchers discovered that the mice without the BMAL1 (normal mice), were more forgetful when they first woke up. 

Though the researcher’s findings may indicate that humans are also more forgetful early in the morning, more research meeds to be done. Scientists are currently trying to find ways to strengthen memory through the BMAL1 pathway, that can possibly help cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. They are also curious to determine the evolutionary benefit of having less memory ability later in the day. This study can be seen as the first step towards a major scientific discovery. 

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  1. trnayon

    Great blog post! I have noticed that it is harder for me to pay attention early in the morning, which could be a viable explanation as to why people are more forgetful in the morning. This site explains that there are many other characteristics that can effect memory like, mood, hunger or fatigue.

  2. michaelchondria

    This article appealed to me because I feel like my memory is different throughout the day. I’m glad that this article reaffirmed my belief that one’s memory can be affected by the time of the day. I found another article ( that actually writes that the brain is most active in the late morning, which is contrary to the results of the experiment with the mice. I also think that the amount of sleep also affects one’s brain’s ability to remember information. I hope that additional research can also back up the idea that memories can be learned differently throughout the day.

  3. branchiolon

    This was a fascinating topic Alleele! Your discussion of the study involving the gene regulating protein BMAL1 in mice and its relationship relative to memory and time of day got me interested in how memory works. An article from Harvard University——discusses the Dual Process Theory in which System 1 (the routine thought process) and System 2 (the active and complex decision making process) work together to produce certain behaviors, such as riding a bike or making a decision. The memory theories are really intricate and interesting.

  4. tsiamine

    This is a very interesting article @alleele! It was definitely amazing to read that we are more forgetful in the morning. I wonder how this information may effect certain school schedules when determining a good and appropriate start time. It’s also amazing to see and read about the first steps and studies about the brain since a lot of the brain’s specific functions are still unknown. I found an article about a study that observes the effect of time delay on recognition memory: These two articles definitely relate by exploring memory in relation to time.

  5. melaria

    Alleele, what an interesting study about how the time of day can affect one’s memory! After reading cellillymembrane’s comment, I was intrigued that memory is most effective during the afternoon! Both your blog and cellillymembrane’s comment made me curious as to what other factors play a role in memory. A test was performed on too groups of participants where one group was placed in a room with cold temperature and one group in a room with warm temperature (the preferred room). They were given a N back test, which is a test that involves different letters appearing on a screen and recalling whether one of those letters had been shown in the slide before. The participants in the warm room performed significantly better than those in the cold room. This proved the theory that our memories works better in an ambient temperature – or a temperature that we prefer! I look forward to reading more research studies about our memories and how they function in different situations.

  6. Bacterina

    Thank you Aleele for writing about this topic! I find it quite interesting how the effectiveness of memory can fluctuate throughout the day. Considering the majority of school days begin early in the day I feel that this helps to explain to me why morning grogginess occurs. I think it is amazing that scientists have the ability to create a protein like BMAL1 which can help horrible diseases like Alzheimer’s. This is an article by CNN that elaborates on the circadian rhythms which rule our memory and the specific regions of our brain affected by the time of day.

  7. cellillymembrane

    I think it’s very interesting how just the time of day can affect one’s memory. In your article you mentioned how people are forgetful early in the morning, so I was wondering what time of day one’s memory is the best. I found an article that explained a study where young adults were tested on word memory at different times of day. The study concluded that the test results were more accurate in the afternoon rather than the morning. The study also suggests scheduled times during the day when self regulating your own study schedule.This is a very interesting topic that I think could benefit a lot of students around the world.

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