Can 'sleeping' while you're awake boost brain function?

January 3, 2018, University of Queensland
Can 'sleeping' while you're awake boost brain function?
Credit: University of Queensland

Mimicking sleep processes in the awake brain of elderly people could prevent age-related decline in brain function.

The University of Queensland's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences researcher Dr. Martin Sale is investigating if the brain can be made more resistant to by artificially boosting sleep-like brain activity.

"Sleep plays a key role in promoting neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to re-wire itself—but as sleep quality reduces as we age, our is affected," Dr. Sale said.

"Sleep is important in helping to consolidate the changes to brain function that occur whilst you are awake.

"For example, if you have a good night's sleep after studying, you're much better at remembering the material you learnt for an upcoming exam.

"A portion of sleep, the deep part of sleep known as , assists with strengthening the brain changes required for learning and memory that occur throughout the day.

"We would like to artificially cause the relevant brain regions to oscillate at this slow frequency, to mimic slow wave sleep, but when the brain is awake."

The researchers can achieve this by passing a small alternating electric current between two parts of a person's brain using a safe and often completely unnoticeable procedure.

"In essence we are tricking the into thinking it's asleep to harness the beneficial aspects of sleep even though it's still awake."

Approximately 50 per cent of adults complain of difficulty sleeping and approximately 20 per cent of adults aged over 65 have some form of cognitive impairment.

The researchers are looking for healthy right-handed elderly participants aged over 65 years to participate in the study.

Explore further: Sleep and Alzheimer's disease connection

Related Stories

Sleep and Alzheimer's disease connection

October 17, 2017
How often do you get a good night's sleep? Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines recommend adults get an average of at least seven hours of sleep a night. Dr. Ronald Petersen, a Mayo Clinic neurologist, says ...

Brain wave activity associated with circadian preferences

November 3, 2017
A new study from the University of Helsinki, Finland, shows that individual circadian preference is associated with brain activity patterns during the night.

Information processing breakdown in sleep-deprived rats

September 25, 2017
Sleep deprivation may disrupt the brain's ability to integrate information over time, potentially contributing to the decline in cognitive performance observed during extended time awake, suggests a study in rats published ...

Deep sleep critical for visual learning

October 4, 2017
Remember those "Magic Eye" posters from the 1990s? You let your eyes relax, and out of the tessellating structures, a 3-D image of a dolphin or a yin yang or a shark would emerge.

New insights into how sleep helps the brain to reorganise itself

October 2, 2017
A study has given new insights into how sleep contributes to brain plasticity – the ability for our brain to change and reorganise itself – and could pave the way for new ways to help people with learning and memory disorders.

Little or poor sleep may be associated with worse brain function when aging

June 26, 2014
Research published today in PLOS ONE by researchers at the University of Warwick indicates that sleep problems are associated with worse memory and executive function in older people.

Recommended for you

Noninvasive spinal stimulation method enables paralyzed people to regain use of hands, study finds

April 26, 2018
The ability to perform simple daily tasks can make a big difference in people's lives, especially for those with spinal cord injuries. A UCLA-led team of scientists reports that six people with severe spinal cord injuries—three ...

Biomarkers and efficacy of vaccine responses among patients treated with new MS drug

April 26, 2018
In March 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved ocrelizumab as the first treatment for both relapsing (RMS) and progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a genetic disease that afflicts approximately 400,000 ...

New link between sleep arousals and body temperature may also be connected to SIDS

April 25, 2018
Brief arousals during sleep—sometimes as many as ten to fifteen per night—appear random in time and occur in humans and even in animals.

Ethics debate overdue in human brain research: experts

April 25, 2018
What if human brain tissue implanted into a pig transferred some of the donor's self-awareness and memories?

Imaging may allow safe tPA treatment of patients with unwitnessed strokes

April 25, 2018
A study led by Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) investigators may lead to a significant expansion in the number of stroke patients who can safely be treated with intravenous tPA (tissue plasminogen activator), the "clot ...

Brain structure linked to symptoms of restless legs syndrome

April 25, 2018
People with restless legs syndrome may have changes in a portion of the brain that processes sensory information, according to a study published in the April 25, 2018, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.