Scientists find cause of sleep deprivation memory loss
A new study by a team of scientists at the University of Pennsylvania has found a particular set of cells in the brain that are responsible for memory problems caused by sleep deprivation. And by selectively increasing levels of a signaling molecule in these cells, researchers have been able to prevent memory problems in mice.
For the study, published in the Journal of Neuroscience, the scientists trained mice with a spatial memory task by hiding three different objects in a box, each in three distinct locations. They then injected mice with an octopamine to boost memory cell pathways and divided the mice into two groups – one that was left undisturbed, and one that was deprived of sleep for five hours.
After a day of training, the mice were tested to see if they could recognize a box that had been moved. Researchers found that mice that were given the injection with interrupted sleep and mice that had uninterrupted sleep recognized the moved box by exploring it more. But the mice that experienced sleep loss without receiving an injection did not recognize the moved box and explored all boxes randomly.
The researchers believe that more research in this area could be used to help people who work in long shifts by keeping their cognitive functions sharp.