Everyone feels refreshed after a good night's sleep, but sleep does more than just rejuvenate, it can also consolidate memories. 'The rapid eye movement form of sleep and slow wave sleep are involved in cognitive forms of memory such as learning motor skills and consciously accessible memory', explains Randolf Menzel from the Freie Universtät Berlin, Germany.
According to Menzel, the concept that something during sleep reactivates a memory for consolidation is a basic theory in sleep research. However, the human brain is far too complex to begin dissecting the intricate neurocircuits that underpin our memories, which is why Menzel has spent the last four decades working with honey bees: they are easy to train, well motivated and it is possible to identify the miniaturised circuits that control specific behaviours in their tiny brains.
Intrigued by the role of sleep in memory consolidation and knowing that a bee is sleeping well when its antennae are relaxed and collapsed down, Menzel decided to focus on the role of sleep in one key memory characteristic: relearning. They publish their discovery that sleep derivation prevents bees from altering well-established memories in The Journal of Experimental Biology ay http://jeb.biologists.org.
The challenge that Menzel set the bees was to learn a new route home after being displaced from a familiar path. He and his colleague Lisa Beyaert provided a hive with a well-stocked feeder and trained the bees to visit the feeder and return home fully laden. Then, when the duo were convinced that the bees had memorized the routine, they cunningly intercepted the bees at the feeder and transported them to a new location before releasing the insects to find their way home. According to Menzel, foragers learn the general lay of the land as novices before specialising in a few well-travelled routes later in their careers. He explains that the displaced bees had to rely on their earlier experiences to learn their new way home. How would loss of sleep affect the bee's ability to learn the new route? To determine this, Menzel and Beyeart first had to check that the bees could learn the new route and that sleep deprivation hadn't made them too tired or altered their motivation to forage.
Teaming up with electrical engineer Uwe Greggers, Menzel kitted the bees out with tiny RADAR transponders; the RADAR technology was particularly demanding to operate. Tracking the insects' progress as they tried to learn the alternative route home, Menzel and his colleagues saw that by the second run home, the displaced bees had learned the new route. And when the trio disturbed the insects' sleep during the night before the initial displacement by shaking them awake every 5 minutes, they found that the bees were unfazed. In fact they didn't seem to need sleep to maintain their foraging energy levels and the foragers that were deprived of sleep before the first displacement run had no problems learning the new route home.
However, when the team disrupted the bees' sleep after they had allowed the bees a single run along the new displaced route, the lack of sleep played havoc with their memories on the following day. Fewer than half of the sleep-deprived foragers made it home successfully, and those that did took more than twice as long as bees that had enjoyed an uninterrupted night's sleep.
REFERENCE: Beyaert, L., Greggers, U. and Menzel, R. (2012). Honeybees consolidate navigation memory during sleep. J. Exp. Biol. 215, 3981-3988
This article is posted on this site to give advance access to other authorised media who may wish to report on this story. Full attribution is required, and if reporting online a link to jeb.biologists.com is also required. The story posted here is COPYRIGHTED. Therefore advance permission is required before any and every reproduction of each article in full. PLEASE CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org
Kathryn Knight | EurekAlert!
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy