Evening preference correlates with regional brain volumes in the anterior occipital lobe

S. L. Evans, M. A. Leocadio-Miguel, T. P. Taporoski, L. M. Gomez, A. R.V.R. Horimoto, E. Alkan, F. Beijamini, M. Pedrazzoli, K. L. Knutson, J. E. Krieger, H. P. Vallada, A. Sterr, A. C. Pereira, A. B. Negrão, M. von Schantz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Chronotype or diurnal preference is a questionnaire-based measure influenced both by circadian period and by the sleep homeostat. In order to further characterize the biological determinants of these measures, we used a hypothesis-free approach to investigate the association between the score of the morningness-eveningness questionnaire (MEQ) and the Munich chronotype questionnaire (MCTQ), as continuous variables, and volumetric measures of brain regions acquired by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Data were collected from the Baependi Heart Study cohort, based in a rural town in South-Eastern Brazil. MEQ and anatomical 1.5-T MRI scan data were available from 410 individuals, and MCTQ scores were available from a subset of 198 of them. The average MEQ (62.2 ± 10.6) and MCTQ (average MSFsc 201 ± 85 min) scores were suggestive of a previously reported strong general tendency toward morningness in this community. Setting the significance threshold at P > .002 to account for multiple comparisons, we observed a significant association between lower MEQ score (eveningness) and greater volume of the left anterior occipital sulcus (β = −0.163, p = .001) of the occipital lobe. No significant associations were observed for MCTQ. This may reflect the smaller dataset for MCTQ, and/or the fact that MEQ, which asks questions about preferred timings, is more trait-like than the MCTQ, which asks questions about actual timings. The association between MEQ and a brain region dedicated to visual information processing is suggestive of the increasingly recognized fluidity in the interaction between visual and nonvisual photoreception and the circadian system, and the possibility that chronotype includes an element of masking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1135-1142
Number of pages8
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number8
Early online date28 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


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