Circadian rhythms in executive function during the transition to adolescence: the effect of synchrony between chronotype and time of day


Philip David Zelazo, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota, 51 East River Road, Minneapolis, MN 55455-0345, USA; e-mail:


To explore the influence of circadian rhythms on executive function during early adolescence, we administered a battery of executive function measures (including a Go-Nogo task, the Iowa Gambling Task, a Self-ordered Pointing task, and an Intra/Extradimensional Shift task) to Morning-preference and Evening-preference participants (N = 80) between the ages of 11 and 14 years who were tested in the morning or afternoon. Significant Chronotype × Time of Day interactions (controlling for amount of sleep the previous night) revealed that adolescents tested at their optimal times of day performed better than those tested at their nonoptimal times. Implications for our understanding of physiological arousal, sleep, and executive function during adolescence are discussed.