NationaUnconventional wiring of the brain circuits that govern sleep and waking might explain the prevalence of insomnia and the conditions association with obesity, according to new work published in the April issue of Cell Metabolism. Characterized by a chronic inability to fall asleep or remain sleeping, insomnia is estimated to affect one in every eight Americans.
By finding ways to interfere with that unconventional wiring, scientists may advance on new treatments for insomnia, the researchers said. Natural variation in this brain system might also explain differences among people in their susceptibility to sleep disturbances.
The researchers found that so-called hypocretin neurons--having important roles in both arousal and appetite--lack the ability of most neurons to filter "noise" from signal, reported Tamas Horvath and Xiao-Bing Gao of Yale University School of Medicine. The neurons also rapidly reorganize themselves, becoming even more excitable, in response to stresses such as food deprivation, they found.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
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