Sunday November 18, 2018

Sleep spindles may help in improving memory retention

Also, the new understanding of the way the brain normally processes and strengthens memories during sleep may help to explain how that process may go wrong in people

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Sleep spindles can help in memory retention. Pixabay
Brain's memory can be affected by Depression and Anxiety. Pixabay
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  • Sleep spindles can help in retaining new memories
  • These spindles are few seconds for oscillatory bursts
  • This can help in understanding cognitive processes of the human brain

Want to strengthen your cognitive skills regarding any relevant information? Sleep spindles can help you in retaining new memories related to any newly learned information when you sleep.

brain
This research can help in understanding human cognitive processes. Pixabay

Sleep spindles are half-second to two-second bursts of oscillatory brain activity — occurring during non-rapid eye movement sleep stages two and three — and measured in the 10 to 16 Hertz range on an electroencephalogram (EEG). Previous researches had shown that the number of spindles during the night could predict a person’s memory the next day.

“While it has been shown previously that targeted memory reactivation can boost memory consolidation during sleep, we now show that sleep spindles might represent the key underlying mechanism,” said Bernhard Staresina, post-doctoral student at the University of Birmingham.

“Thus, direct induction of sleep spindles — for example, via transcranial electrical stimulation — perhaps combined with targeted memory reactivation, may enable us to further improve memory performance while we sleep.”

For the study, published in the journal Current Biology, the researchers devised an experiment in which people learned to associate particular adjectives with particular objects and scenes.

Structure of brain can help find the causes behind epilepsy.
Sleep spindles can cause better memory.

Some study participants then took a 90-minute nap after their study session, whereas others stayed awake. While people napped, the researchers cued those associative memories and unfamiliar adjectives. The results showed that the memory cues led to an increase in sleep spindles. Interestingly, the EEG patterns during spindles enabled the researchers to discern what types of memories — objects or scenes — were being processed.

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“Our data suggest that spindles facilitate processing of relevant memory features during sleep and that this process boosts memory consolidation,” he said. Also, the new understanding of the way the brain normally processes and strengthens memories during sleep may help to explain how that process may go wrong in people with learning difficulties, the researchers added. IANS

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Travelling To Space May Alter Brain, Says Study

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume

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Keplar, NASA
According to co-author Andrew Casey, it was previously believed that the first stars that formed in the universe could not possibly still exist today. VOA

Spending long periods in space not only leads to muscle atrophy and reductions in bone density, it also has lasting effects on the brain, suggests a study.

The study, led by a team of neuroscientists from the University of Antwerp in Belgium and Ludwig-Maximilians-University (LMU) of Munich, showed that differential changes in the three main tissue volumes of the brain remain detectable for at least half a year after the end of their last mission.

“Our results point to prolonged changes in the pattern of cerebrospinal fluid circulation over a period of at least seven months following the return to Earth,” said professor Peter zu Eulenburg from the LMU.

“However, whether or not the extensive alterations shown in the grey and the white matter lead to any changes in cognition remains unclear at present,” he added.

The study, reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, was carried out on ten cosmonauts, each of whom had spent an average of 189 days on board the International Space Station (ISS).

The magnetic resonance tomography (MRT) scans performed in the days after the return to Earth revealed that the volume of the grey matter was reduced compared to before launch.

ISS Launched First satellite For Cleaning Space Junk
Space travel can alter brain: Study, Pixabay

Seven months later, this effect was partly reversed, but nevertheless still detectable.

In contrast, the volume of the cerebrospinal fluid, which fills the inner and outer cavities of the brain, increased within the cortex during long-term exposure to microgravity.

Further, the white matter tissue volume (those parts of the brain that are primarily made up of nerve fibres) appeared to be unchanged upon investigation immediately after landing.

But, the subsequent examination six months later showed a widespread reduction in volume relative to both earlier measurements.

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In this case, the team postulated that over the course of a longer stint in space, the volume of the white matter may slowly be replaced by an influx of cerebrospinal fluid.

Upon return to Earth, this process is then gradually reversed, which then results in a relative reduction of white matter volume.

According to the researchers, further studies using a wider range of diagnostic methods are deemed essential, to minimise the risks associated with long-term missions and to characterise any clinical significance of the findings. (IANS)