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Circadian rhythms in cognitive performance: implications for neuropsychological assessment

Authors Valdez P, Ramírez, García A

Received 10 September 2012

Accepted for publication 20 November 2012

Published 17 December 2012 Volume 2012:2 Pages 81—92

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/CPT.S32586

Checked for plagiarism Yes

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Peer reviewer comments 4


Pablo Valdez, Candelaria Ramírez, Aída García

Laboratory of Psychophysiology, School of Psychology, University of Nuevo León, Monterrey, Nuevo León, México

Abstract: Circadian variations have been found in human performance, including the efficiency to execute many tasks, such as sensory, motor, reaction time, time estimation, memory, verbal, arithmetic calculations, and simulated driving tasks. Performance increases during the day and decreases during the night. Circadian rhythms have been found in three basic neuropsychological processes (attention, working memory, and executive functions), which may explain oscillations in the performance of many tasks. The time course of circadian rhythms in cognitive performance may be modified significantly in patients with brain disorders, due to chronotype, age, alterations of the circadian rhythm, sleep deprivation, type of disorder, and medication. This review analyzes the recent results on circadian rhythms in cognitive performance, as well as the implications of these rhythms for the neuropsychological assessment of patients with brain disorders such as traumatic head injury, stroke, dementia, developmental disorders, and psychiatric disorders.

Keywords: human circadian rhythms, cognitive performance, neuropsychological assessment, attention, working memory, executive functions

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