An ongoing lack of sleep during adolescence could lead to more than dragging, foggy teens, a University of Wisconsin-Madison study suggests.
Researchers have found that short-term sleep restriction in adolescent mice prevented the balanced growth and depletion of brain synapses, connections between nerve cells where communication occurs.
"One possible implication of our study is that if you lose too much sleep during adolescence, especially chronically, there may be lasting consequences in terms of the wiring of the brain," says Dr. Chiara Cirelli, associate professor in the department of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and Public Health.
Mental illnesses such as schizophrenia tend to start during adolescence but the exact reasons remain unclear. The National Institute of Mental Health funded Cirelli's study; the findings appear in the current issue of Nature Neuroscience (Advance Online Publication).
"Adolescence is a sensitive period of development during which the brain changes dramatically," Cirelli says. "There is a massive remodeling of nerve circuits, with many new synapses formed and then eliminated."
Cirelli and colleagues wanted to see how alterations to the sleep-wake cycle affected the anatomy of the developing adolescent brain.
Their earlier molecular and electro-physiological studies showed that during sleep, synapses in adult rodents and flies become weaker and smaller, presumably preparing them for another period of wakefulness when synapses will strengthen again and become larger in response to ever-changing experiences and learning. They call this the synaptic homeostasis hypothesis of sleep.
Using a two-photon microscope, researchers indirectly followed the growth and retraction of synapses by counting dendritic spines, the elongated structures that contain synapses and thus allow brain cells to receive impulses from other brain cells. They compared adolescent mice that for eight to 10 hours were spontaneously awake, allowed to sleep or forced to stay awake.
The live images showed that being asleep or awake made a difference in the dynamic adolescent mouse brain: the overall density of dendritic spines fell during sleep and rose during spontaneous or forced wakefulness.
"These results using acute manipulations of just eight to 10 hours show that the time spent asleep or awake affects how many synapses are being formed or removed in the adolescent brain," Cirelli says. "The important next question is what happens with chronic sleep restriction, a condition that many adolescents are often experiencing."
The experiments are under way, but Cirelli can't predict the outcome. "It could be that the changes are benign, temporary and reversible," she says, "or there could be lasting consequences for brain maturation and functioning."
Dian Land | EurekAlert!
Researchers simplify tiny structures' construction drip by drip
12.11.2018 | Princeton University, Engineering School
Mandibular movement monitoring may help improve oral sleep apnea devices
06.11.2018 | Elsevier
Innsbruck quantum physicists have constructed a diode for magnetic fields and then tested it in the laboratory. The device, developed by the research groups led by the theorist Oriol Romero-Isart and the experimental physicist Gerhard Kirchmair, could open up a number of new applications.
Electric diodes are essential electronic components that conduct electricity in one direction but prevent conduction in the opposite one. They are found at the...
Max Planck researchers revel the nano-structure of molecular trains and the reason for smooth transport in cellular antennas.
Moving around, sensing the extracellular environment, and signaling to other cells are important for a cell to function properly. Responsible for those tasks...
Researchers at the University of New Hampshire have captured a difficult-to-view singular event involving "magnetic reconnection"--the process by which sparse particles and energy around Earth collide producing a quick but mighty explosion--in the Earth's magnetotail, the magnetic environment that trails behind the planet.
Magnetic reconnection has remained a bit of a mystery to scientists. They know it exists and have documented the effects that the energy explosions can...
Biochips have been developed at TU Wien (Vienna), on which tissue can be produced and examined. This allows supplying the tissue with different substances in a very controlled way.
Cultivating human cells in the Petri dish is not a big challenge today. Producing artificial tissue, however, permeated by fine blood vessels, is a much more...
Faster and secure data communication: This is the goal of a new joint project involving physicists from the University of Würzburg. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research funds the project with 14.8 million euro.
In our digital world data security and secure communication are becoming more and more important. Quantum communication is a promising approach to achieve...
19.11.2018 | Event News
09.11.2018 | Event News
06.11.2018 | Event News
22.11.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
22.11.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
21.11.2018 | Life Sciences