Chronotype and time-of-day influences on the alerting, orienting, and executive components of attention

Department of Psychology, The Pennsylvania State University, Altoona Campus, 3000 Ivyside Park, Altoona, PA 16601, USA.
Experimental Brain Research (Impact Factor: 2.04). 10/2008; 192(2):189-98. DOI: 10.1007/s00221-008-1567-6
Source: PubMed


Recent research on attention has identified three separable components, known as alerting, orienting, and executive functioning, which are thought to be subserved by distinct neural networks. Despite systematic investigation into their relatedness to each other and to psychopathology, little is known about how these three networks might be modulated by such factors as time-of-day and chronotype. The present study administered the Attentional Network Test (ANT) and a self-report measure of alertness to 80 participants at 0800, 1200, 1600, and 2000 hours on the same day. Participants were also chronotyped with a morningness/eveningness questionnaire and divided into evening versus morning/neither-type groups; morning chronotypes tend to perform better early in the day, while evening chronotypes show enhanced performance later in the day. The results replicated the lack of any correlations between alerting, orienting, and executive functioning, supporting the independence of these three networks. There was an effect of time-of-day on executive functioning with higher conflict scores at 1200 and 1600 hours for both chronotypes. The efficiency of the orienting system did not change as a function of time-of-day or chronotype. The alerting measure, however, showed an interaction between time-of-day and chronotype such that alerting scores increased only for the morning/neither-type participants in the latter half of the day. There was also an interaction between time-of-day and chronotype for self-reported alertness, such that it increased during the first half of the day for all participants, but then decreased for morning/neither types (only) toward evening. This is the first report to examine changes in the trinity of attentional networks measured by the ANT throughout a normal day in a large group of normal participants, and it encourages more integration between chronobiology and cognitive neuroscience for both theoretical and practical reasons.

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    • "On the basis of the results of previous studies on dawn simulator (Fromm et al. 2011; Gabel et al. 2013; Giménez et al. 2010; Thompson et al. 2014; Thorn et al. 2004; van de Werken et al. 2010) and taking into account that the well-known alerting effects of light (Cajochen 2007) seem to be modulated by some cortical networks that partially overlap with the suggested cortical substrate of the alerting network (i.e., parietal, insular and thalamic areas) (Fan et al. 2005), we could expect a better attentional performance after the use of dawn simulator , especially with reference to the alerting network. Since the likelihood that the attentional performance at the ANT could be modulated by sleep quality and sleep duration (Jugovac and Cavallero 2012) as well as sleep timing (Matchock and Mordkoff 2009), here such parameters were objectively monitored through actigraphy and treated as potentially confounding variables. "
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    • "Indeed, these inter-individual differences in the circadian clock may explain differences in circadian fluctuations. This has been reported for cognitive performance in a range of memory tasks (Petros et al., 1990; May et al., 1993; Hasher et al., 1999; Intons- Peterson et al., 1999; West et al., 2002), for the alerting component of attention (Matchock and Mordkoff, 2009) as well as for the sensorimotor system, revealing chronotype-induced changes in maximum voluntary muscle contraction and excitability of the motor cortex (Tamm et al., 2009), furthermore in influence of bright light on physical performance (Kantermann et al., 2012). "
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