The brain signal crucial for memory is disrupted due to lack of sleep

The brain signal crucial for memory is disrupted due to lack of sleep

About the episode

There is a link between sleep and memory, but we still do not understand this mechanism well enough. Researchers have now discovered that an important brain signal that plays a role in our long-term memory doesn’t work properly when we get poor sleep.

Neurons in the brain form networks and almost always work together. This cooperation occurs in patterns of signals, often rhythmic and repetitive. One of those styles is Sharp wave rippleWhere a large group of neurons is active at the same time, then a second group, then the next, then the next.

What you then get is a wave through the brain, like a wave on a football field. This type of brain activity occurs in the area of ​​the brain where memories are formed and stored, both during the day and when we sleep.

What we have already seen is that these waves are sometimes accelerated repetitions of brain activity moments earlier. As if the experience is being recalled.

It appears that these waves of activity are affected by sleep. The researchers saw this in this case in mice, which had to discover a maze, some of which suffered from intermittent sleep and others did not suffer from disturbed sleep.

To their surprise, they saw that the same number of these brain waves were visible in both conditions, but in the animals that slept poorly they were less robust and more chaotic. There was less accurate replication. When this was followed by a few days of normal sleep, these brain waves recovered somewhat, but they never became as good as in people who sleep well.

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The hope is that this knowledge could ultimately help in the development of future treatments aimed at improving memory.

Read more about the research here: Sleep deprivation disrupts memory: here’s why

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