Studies have proved that sleeping helps us forget bad memories, preparing our brain for creating new ones. Our brain is ready to store new information, new memories after a good sleeping. The unnecessary, bad memories will be erased from our brain during the sleeping process, making room for good memories. Researchers used animal samples for this study.
Thus, they were able to establish which is the principle and mechanism employed by the brain when clearing stored memories during sleep. New research conducted by Chiara Cirelli and Giulio Tononi from the University of Wisconsin-Madison has revealed new data about the topic under discussion. The team of researchers has used mice to prove that there exists a cycle happening when sleeping and when awake.
The connections established between brain cells known as synapses tend to shrink. The brain relaxes when a person is asleep compared to when that person is awake, and the synapses become active after the resting period. Scientists were able to reach these conclusions by making a small incision in mice’ brains in the area responsible for memories.
Then, they decided to scan every layer of the brain for a time span of 24 hours by implementing the use of Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM). Another team of researchers at John Hopkins University have continued the previous study, carefully analyzing the relaxation of synapses during sleep. They also used mice when developing the new research.
Based on the data provided by Graham Diering, the lead author of the research, the brain is recalibrated every time the storage area of the brain becomes saturated. Thus, they noted that the lack of sleep could have terrible results like memory loss. The team of scientists managed to discover a substance known as Homer1a.
This represents an essential protein in establishing individual sleep patterns, but also in the homeostasis of neurons. When the mice are asleep, this protein decreases its levels by 20% compared to the period when they are awake. What is more, Diering pointed out that when mammals are awake, the synapses located in the central nervous system become stronger rather than weaker.
The process through which the neural network of the central nervous system is weak, allowing particular neurons to work and store new data is called the Homeostatic Scaling Down.
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