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Birthdate Depression

December 30, 2010

Being born in the winter could affect your biological clock – and your personality – later in life.


Daylight and personality…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

The idea that your personality has anything to do with the alignment of the stars when you were born may be mumbo-jumbo, but the season of your birth still might affect your personality for biological reasons. Vanderbilt University biologist Douglas McMahon and his colleagues raised baby mice on either a summer or winter daylight cycle. At seven months, the winter mice behaved differently.

DOUGLAS McMAHON (Vanderbilt University):
They have longer daily cycles, and an extended time of activity each day.

And, like humans suffering from winter depression, they also had an exaggerated response to changes in daylength. These differences were reflected in the expression of genes that control their biological clocks. McMahon says people born in winter months tend to be more prone to winter depression and other mood disorders.

Perhaps imprinting of the biological clock by light cycles early in life could lead to this seasonality of risk for these mood disorders.

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.