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    ABSTRACT: Background: Seasonal variations in mood and behavior are common among the general population and may have a deteriorating effect on cognitive functions. Aims: In this study the effect of seasonal affective disorder (SAD-like symptoms) on cognitive test performance were evaluated in more detail. Methods: The data were derived from the study Mental Health in Early Adulthood in Finland. Participants (n = 481) filled in a modified Seasonal Pattern Assessment Questionnaire (SPAQ) and performed cognitive tests in verbal and visual skills, attention and general intelligence. Results: SAD-like symptoms, especially regarding the seasonal variations in weight and appetite, had a significant effect on working memory (Digit Span Backward, P = 0.008) and auditory attention and short-term memory (Digit Span Forward, P = 0.004). The seasonal variations in sleep duration and mood had an effect on auditory attention and short-term memory (Digit Span Forward, P = 0.02 and P = 0.0002, respectively). The seasonal variations in social activity and energy level had no effect. Conclusions: Seasonal changes in mood, appetite and weight have an impairing effect on auditory attention and processing speed. If performance tests are not to repeated in different seasons, attention needs to be given to the most appropriate season in which to test.
    No preview · Article · Nov 2011 · Nordic journal of psychiatry