Sleep deprivation is not to be taken lightly especially if you’re supposed to drive and work during the day. Scientists from Israel and California have found conclusive evidence which suggests that staying up all night can disrupt our neurons’ responsiveness.
Published in Nature Medicine, the study states that some neurons will have trouble sending signals to each other if we go without sleep for long periods of time. The neurons affected are located in the medial temporal lobe which is the part of the brain associated with object recognition.
Researchers say the effects are similar to drinking too much alcohol and the consequences are disruptive. Professor of Neurosurgery, Dr. Itzhak Fried, stated that robbing our bodies of sleep will inevitably lead to „cognitive lapses in how we perceive and react to the world around us.”
In the study, the team of scientists observed 12 people who were about to undergo surgery for epilepsy at UCLA. Patients had their brains implanted with electrodes that could locate the origin of the seizure before surgery. Because the electrodes were in their brains, scientists could see each neuronal cell’s activity. As part of this experiment, all 12 people had to stay awake for a long period of time.
Fried then asked each person to categorize a set of pictures as quickly as possible. The researchers noticed the task became increasingly challenging the longer the patient was awake. When the patients became sleepy, scientists could see their electrical wave patterns become weaker. Sleep deprivation dampens the neuron’s ability to properly assimilate information and relay it back in the form of images.
There is yet to be learned about the mechanism responsible for sleep deprivation however researchers would like to concentrate on other issues such as the benefits of sleep.
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