Wednesday February 26, 2020

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
  • 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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Here’s Why You Should Follow a Mediterranean Diet

Mediterranean diet can reduce frailty in old age

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Meditarranean diet
Eating a Mediterranean diet for a year could help keep the mind sharp and reduce frailty in old age. Pixabay

Researchers have found that eating a Mediterranean diet for a year could help keep the mind sharp and reduce frailty in old age. This is the latest health advice.

The study, published in the journal ‘Gut’, showed that following a Mediterranean diet boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ ageing, while reducing those associated with harmful inflammation in older people.

As ageing is associated with deteriorating bodily functions and increasing inflammation, both of which herald the onset of frailty, this diet might act on gut bacteria in such a way as to help curb the advance of physical frailty and cognitive decline in older age, the researchers suggested.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet boosts the types of gut bacteria linked to ‘healthy’ ageing. Pixabay

“Older people may have dental problems and/or difficulty swallowing, so it may be impractical for them to eat a Mediterranean diet,” they added. But the beneficial bacteria implicated in healthy ageing found in this study might yet prove useful therapeutic agents to ward off frailty, said the study researchers led by University College Cork in Ireland.

For the study, the research team involved 612 people aged between 65 to 79 years, before and after 12 months of either eating their usual diet or a Mediterranean diet rich in fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, olive oil and fish and low in red meat and saturated fats, and specially tailored to older people.

The participants, who were either frail, on the verge of frailty, or not frail at the beginning of the study, lived in five different countries: France, Italy, Netherlands, Poland, and the UK.

Previous research suggests that a poor/restrictive diet, which is common among older people, reduces the range and types of bacteria (microbiome) found in the gut and helps to speed up the onset of frailty.

According to the researchers, sticking to the Mediterranean diet for 12 months was associated with beneficial changes to the gut microbiome.

Mediterranean diet
Mediterranean diet includes fruits, vegetables, nuts and legumes. Pixabay

It was associated with stemming the loss of bacterial diversity; an increase in the types of bacteria previously associated with several indicators of reduced frailty, such as walking speed and hand grip strength, and improved brain function, such as memory; and with reduced production of potentially harmful inflammatory chemicals.

More detailed analysis revealed that the microbiome changes were associated with an increase in bacteria known to produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids and a decrease in bacteria involved in producing particular bile acids, overproduction of which are linked to a heightened risk of bowel cancer, insulin resistance, fatty liver and cell damage.

According to the study, the bacteria that proliferated in response to the Mediterranean diet acted as ‘keystone’ species, meaning they were critical for a stable ‘gut ecosystem,’ pushing out those microbes associated with indicators of frailty.

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The changes were largely driven by an increase in dietary fibre and associated vitamins and minerals–specifically, C, B6, B9, copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and magnesium, the study said. (IANS)