Sleep readies synapses for learning

Sleep readies synapses for learning
Reconstructions of some of the dendritic spines used in the study. Credit: Spano et al., JNeurosci 2019

Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci. Overall, this study supports the idea that sleep may universally weaken synapses that are strengthened from learning, allowing for new learning to occur after waking.

Sleep is thought to recalibrate synaptic strength after a day of learning, allowing for new learning to take place the next day. Chiara Cirelli and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined how synapses in the hippocampus, a structure involved in learning, changed following sleep and in mice.

Consistent with previous studies in the cortex, the researchers observed that synapses were larger, and therefore stronger, after the mice were awake for six to seven hours compared to after they were asleep for the same amount of time. Additionally, the researchers found that the were strongest when the mice were forced to stay awake and interact with new stimuli, compared to that stayed awake on their own. This is consistent with the hippocampus' role in learning, and suggests that synaptic changes take place when learning occurs, not merely from being awake.


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More information: Sleep Deprivation by Exposure to Novel Objects Increases Synapse Density and Axon-Spine Interface in the Hippocampal CA1 Region of Adolescent Mice, JNeurosci (2019). DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0380-19.2019
Journal information: Journal of Neuroscience

Citation: Sleep readies synapses for learning (2019, July 1) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-07-readies-synapses.html
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