Linguistics Meets Chronobiology
Impact of Sustained Wakefulness and Circadian Rhythmicities on a Minimal Syntactic Decision Task
Humboldt-University of Berlin
The current project investigated the impact of circadian modulations on language performance. The circadian master oscillator in humans and other mammals emits signals that trigger organ-specific oscillators, and therefore, constitutes a basic biological process that enables organisms to anticipate daily environmental changes by adjusting their behaviour, physiology and gene regulation. Although circadian rhythms are well characterized on a physiological level, little is known about how language is influenced by circadian modulations. A small number of studies on diurnal variations in language performance reported contradictory results, presumably due to poor control over internally generated circadian variations.
However, the applied constant-routine design allows for a more stringent match of external and internal factors. Therefore, two of the present studies reported in this study were conducted under the unmasking conditions of constant routines. Circadian variations in language performance were addressed with a focus on gender agreement of nouns. Tests of general attention and sensori-motor performance were embedded in the constant routine protocols as well. Results were compared to a time-of-day design, which enabled the identification of masking and compensatory conditions occuring in everyday life. The results have important implications for establishing optimal times for work shift changes or for testing healthy and linguistically impaired people.
The author holds a bachelor´s degree in Cognitive Science as well as a master´s degree in Clinical Linguistics. She received her doctorate at the Humboldt-University of Berlin.
ISBN 9783895869662. 173pp. Linguistics Edition 76. 2010.