The brain awake and the brain asleep are really two completely different worlds, notes Marcos Frank, PhD, associate professor of Neuroscience. Studying visual responses in an animal model, Frank discovered stronger neuronal connections and reorganization in the visual cortex of animals permitted to sleep over those who were kept awake, with enzymatic activity occurring in the sleeping animals that was suppressed in the sleepless subjects. These findings seem to be directly related both to the formation of memories and to neuronal plasticity and development in the young brain, observes Frank.

Sleep is also necessary to complete the translation of messenger RNA in the synthesis of crucial proteins within the brain. Frank showed that when the activity of the mTOR1 complex is inhibited by lack of sleep, formation of important nerve-cell connections is also impaired because necessary proteins are not being produced.

Share This Page: