Tuesday September 25, 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.

Also Reading: Sleep problems in menopause linked to hot flashes, depression

“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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Frequency of Brain Tumours Increase in Children With Common Genetic Syndrome

Applying the new criteria to MRI scans will help physicians identify probable tumours.

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Brain tumours may occur in children with common genetic syndrome
Brain tumours may occur in children with common genetic syndrome, Pixabya

Parents, please take note. The frequency of brain tumours has been underestimated in children with the common genetic syndrome — neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), a new study has found.

According to the researchers, this disorder is characterised by birthmarks on the skin and benign nerve tumours that develop in or on the skin. Brain tumours are also known to occur in children and adults with NF1.

They estimated that only 15-20 per cent of kids with NF1 develop brain tumours. But the study, published in the journal Neurology: Clinical Practice, found that the frequency of brain tumours in this population was more than three times higher.

brain tumours can be confused with harmless bright spots, it has never been clear whether finding these abnormalities via MRI should be a cause for concern
Brain tumours can be confused with harmless bright spots, it has never been clear whether finding these abnormalities via MRI should be a cause for concern. Wikimedia Commons

“I’m not delivering the message anymore that brain tumours are rare in NF1. This study has changed how I decide which children need more surveillance and when to let the neuro-oncologists know that we may have a problem,” said senior author David H. Gutmann from the Washington University School of Medicine.

Brain Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) scans of children with NF1 characteristically show bright spots that are absent in the scans of unaffected children. Unlike tumours, they are generally thought to disappear in teenage years, the researchers said.

Since brain tumours can be confused with harmless bright spots, it has never been clear whether finding these abnormalities via MRI should be a cause for concern, they added.

Representation of a Brain Tumour. Flickr
Representation of a Brain Tumor. Flickr

For the study, the team developed a set of criteria to distinguish tumours from other bright spots. The researchers then analysed scans from 68 NF1 patients and 46 children without NF1 for comparison.

Also Read: Taking Care of Mental Health Problems in Children, may Boost Parent’s Mental Health Too 

All but four (94 per cent) of the children with NF1 had bright spots, and none of the children without NF1 did. Further, in 57 per cent of the children with bright spots, at least one of the spots was deemed likely to be a tumour, the research team found.

Applying the new criteria to MRI scans will help physicians identify probable tumours, but that does not mean that all children with NF1 should be scanned regularly, the researchers cautioned. (IANS)