For people of a certain age, the cryptic crossword may be about to be easier.
Those over 70 can expect to be at the top of their game to remember things when the fall equinox comes to the end of the month.
The effect is like being almost five years younger, according to a study, and it seems to last from the end of September to the beginning of October.
Scientists made the discovery after discovering that memory and problem-solving skills change throughout the year.
The study, led by researchers at the University of Toronto, involved more than 3,300 elderly people who took extensive memory tests. He found that yield peaked in late summer and early fall, before slowly slowing down and hitting bottom in late winter and early spring.
Those over 70 could find easier riddles later this month, as scientists have discovered that skills change with the seasons.
The levels of genes and proteins related to Alzheimer's disease followed the same pattern. The bad news for those over 70 is that their memory may be at its worst in late March and early April, when it is almost a third more likely to be diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or dementia, according to the study.
In some cases, this could cause misdiagnosis of older people with memory problems, just to see if the problems are reversed in the fall.
Researchers suggest that cold and dark can make people live more unhealthy during the winter, affecting the brain and causing thinking skills to decrease.
Dr. Andrew Lim, lead author of the study, said: "Our suspicion is that changes in seasons, light, temperature and social schedules can cause people to have less physical activity, eat less or change patterns. of sleep.
"This can affect the way genes and proteins are expressed in the brain, causing the difference in how someone's memory works." Vitamin D can also be important. "
Participants who had an average age of 77 received a series of memory tests and their performance was compared throughout the seasons.
The bad news for those over 70 is that their memory may be at its worst in late March and early April.
The results changed more for "working memory," which involves retrieving number strings, and "executive function," which involved decoding symbols linked to numbers.
Adults with and without dementia showed the same memory patterns throughout the year.
Dr. Lim said: "This study has implications for doctors, as we can advise people to exercise more, eat better or take vitamin D at certain times of the year to increase memories."
The study was published in the journal PLOS Medicine.