Are You Smarter In Summer? How Seasons Affect Brain Performance

You’ve probably seen how different seasons affect your physical and emotional state. Most people find it hard to go out and run on a cold, dark winter afternoon, but are happy to spend all day outside on a summer evening. In general, people feel sadder in the winter and happier in the summer, but why? Recent studies have shown that seasons don’t only affect our mood, but they actually affect our cognitive processes (attention, memory, learning…) and brain performance.

Do you need to make a big decision, like where to go to school, where to buy your house, or where to send your child to school? Are you working on a new goal? You need to know what season your cognitive functions work best so you can be alert and get the best brain performance out of the season!

A study from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences has shown that cognitive functions follow the seasons, which means that our brain will use different cognitive resources depending on the season. Pretty interesting, right? A lot of this has to do with our ancestors and how they had to live…collecting food, hunting, cooking, using daylight hours, etc. Check out how each season affects our cognitive performance!

Summer is the time to reach your goals: In the summer, our attention peaks, and since humans don’t have to use the time to go hunting for food anymore, we can use it to make some changes in our lives. If you’re working on learning something new or starting a new habit, this is the time!

Autumn is for memory: Study for the SATs or the GMAT, learn a new language, start a new hobby, or try to learn a new song. August is the perfect time! Our working memory reaches its peak during this time, so you’ll be able to learn and incorporate more information more easily. The possibilities are endless.

Attention dwindles in winter: This may be due to evolution. Back when we had to search for our food in the wild, there were less resources available in the winter, so our ancestors had to save their energy, which weakened some brain performance.

Spring is “what am I doing here?”: Data has shown that spring isn’t the best season for your working memory, but because humans are adaptable, we can use this flexibility to take advantage of other cognitive resources that give us the same outcome.

What should you do to improve your brain in the fall?

Because our working memory is highest in the fall, use it to learn!

Start the school year off on the right foot

Maybe you’re getting ready to go back to school, and maybe you’re just getting back from vacation at work. You can train your brain before school starts, and fall is the perfect time to dive in and get a head start on your reading and studying. Working memory helps us remember and integrate new information into our memory, so it’s wise to take advantage of this before things get too crazy in the winter!

Get involved in a new activity

Have you thought about learning to knit or wanted to get involved in flying model airplanes? Maybe you want to learn how to start working out? Now is a great time to get started! Look online for tips and tutorials and soak up all the information that you can! Learning this in the fall will help you remember and put all that new information and put it to use!

Work for that promotion

You’ve been so close, but you can’t manage to make it happen. Buckle down and work extra hard these few months. Your brain is primed to perform and remember information! Take great notes in meetings and think about what you can do to go the extra mile- with some extra help from your high working memory, you’ll sure to see it pay off.

Train and improve your cognitive skills

As we get older, our cognitive skills naturally start to decline, which especially affects attention, planning processing speed, etc. If you’re worried about this, you can start some brain gym exercises to get you ready and beat the cognitive decline. CogniFit, leader in neuropsychological assessments, offers fun and interactive brain games and brain training programs that have been scientifically validated by the scientific community and universities from around the world.

Try out these tips and get the most out of your brain!

Cristina Martinez de Toda is a psychologist and writer at CogniFit, a validated brain training program. She specialized in neuroscience and neuropsychology applied in education. She enjoys learning about human behavior and sharing new discoveries with her readers.


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

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