Building on his research that the brain during sleep is fundamentally different from the brain during wakefulness, Dr. Frank has found that cellular changes in the sleeping brain that may promote the formation of memories. "This is the first real direct insight into how the brain, on a cellular level, changes the strength of its connections during sleep," Frank says.
When an animal goes to sleep it's like a switch is thrown, everything is turned on that's necessary for making synaptic changes that form the basis of memory formation. The team used an animal model of cortical plasticity – the making and breaking of neural connections in response to life experiences. They found that once the brain is triggered to reorganize its neural networks in wakefulness (by visual deprivation, for instance), intra- and intercellular communication pathways engage, setting a series of enzymes into action within the reorganizing neurons during sleep. The key cellular player in this process is a molecule called N-methyl D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR), which acts like a combination listening post and gate-keeper. It both receives extracellular signals in the form of glutamate and regulates the flow of calcium ions into cells.
"As soon as the animal had a chance to sleep, we saw all the machinery of memory start to engage." Frank will discuss recent experiments and how these relate to memory formation at the molecular level, why humans need sleep, and why they are so affected by the lack of it.
Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
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Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
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In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
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COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.
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Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...
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