Monday, October 26, 2009

Who needs sleep? We apparently can use drugs for that

(sleeping mouse on a limb)

In the experiment, two groups of mice were either allowed to rest over a five-hour period or were constantly disturbed by handling. The sleep-deprived group demonstrated particular problems when it came to performing a basic retrieval test, which they had learned before [BBC News]. When the researchers examined the brains of the sleep-deprived mice, they found that these mice made more of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4). In turn, the surplus of PDE4 caused a shortfall of a compound called cAMP, which is involved in forming new memories in a brain area called the hippocampus [WebMD]. When the researchers gave sleep-deprived mice a drug that stops PDE4 from working, the mice aced their memory tests.

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