Ever feel like after last night’s over-40 drinking-binge you were barely making it through your day?
And though you were still technically on your feet, you felt like you were “half-asleep”?
Well thanks to MIT’s researchers, we’ve found out you were more right than you know.
Using a technique that lets them modify the brains of lab mice to respond to light-pulses, the biotech-boffins have discovered a little bit more on the functioning of an area in the brain called the TRN.
And that could lead to all kinds of benefits for people who have problems with sleep.
What they did was to take this area of the brain and turn it on or off to a greater or lesser extent and observe the changes using a process called “optogenetics”.
And they found that this region is capable of reducing all kinds of activity in your brain into a state that basically puts All, or Just Individual Parts of it to sleep -while the rest of it is still awake! (10th grade Algebra II/Trig, -amirite!?!)
Now that they know a few more things about this region, they can start putting them to use.
The applications include everything from helping insomniacs or ordinary troubled-sleepers get not just more sleep more easily, but to get exactly the Right kind of sleep that is healthiest for them. -Like Lunesta 3.0.
-Especially because this research along with previous studies showed researchers how to induce Both Deep & REM sleep patterns. This is an especially-pointed concern, because current drugs depress all kinds of brain activity & don’t lead to the most healthy forms of sleep.
On the other end of the spectrum, this same technology might also be used to develop better and less-risky anesthesia drugs -or conversely, even more improved versions of alertness-drugs like Provigil.
Even further out, because sleep frequently involves memory-consolidation, future drugs/therapies based on their discoveries may even help people with that functional-deficit also. To the end of purely improving learning & creativity.
Interesting Note: Other previous work by these researchers shows that under general anesthesia, the slow-waves generated by the TRN are completely uncoordinated, which is probably why you don’t remember a damn thing afterward.
Check out the details at the Links:
JUMP BONUS! -MIT Explains Optogenetics:
“The Walking Dead”, Season 5 publicity poster, by Frank Darabont, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Robert Kirkman, Charles H. Eglee, Glen Mazzara, Scott M. Gimple, Greg Nicotero, Tom Luse, AMC Studios, Circle of Confusion, Valhalla Entertainment, and Idiot Box Productions
“Explained: Optogenetics”, video by MIT
• Source: MITNews- How the Brain Controls Sleep
• via: Engadget
• More Coverage: MITNews-Using Light to Trigger REM Sleep | MITNews-How the Brain Loses/Regains Consciousness