New research reveals that sleep patterns of zebrafish are similar to the slow-wave and REM sleep of humans and other mammals, birds, and lizards. Furthermore, the study suggests that these sleep signatures emerged in the brain of our common ancestor more than 450 million years ago. According to the scientists, a better understanding of how sleep evolved could shine light on the biological processes behind it and perhaps lead to new treatments for sleep disorders. From National Geographic:
Based on our understanding of the evolutionary relationships between fish and mammals, the team suggests that REM-like sleep states evolved more than 450 million years ago, making this type of sleep a deeply held biological phenomenon.
“We share a backbone, but we share much more than that,” says study coauthor Philippe Mourrain, a neuroscientist at Stanford University. “It makes it easier to understand sleep and what it does in ourselves..."
Lead author Louis C. Leung, a neuroscientist at Stanford University, built the microscope responsible for the complex imaging done for the study. Most body activity is choreographed by an intricate network of nerve cells, or neurons. When neurons are active, they release calcium, so researchers genetically engineered the zebrafish to include a protein that would flash fluorescent green when it detected calcium, indicating an area of the body is active...
The advance could be particularly valuable for health professionals seeking to design new drugs to combat the growing epidemic of sleep deprivation in many countries. Better sleep-enhancing drugs could provide some relief for people who struggle to drift off. By implementing these techniques in the future, we can potentially better screen drugs to see if they activate the right cells, so that patients wake up feeling refreshed, Leung says.
"Neural signatures of sleep in zebrafish" (Nature)
image: "Female zebrafish" by Azul (Wikimedia Commons)
The Bank of England has unveiled its new £50 notes, which had been earmarked to honour a distinguished British scientist, and which will feature Alan Turing, the WWII hero who discovered many of the foundational insights to both modern computing and cryptography, and whose work with the codebreakers of Bletchley Park are widely believed to […]
The great science purge, they’ll call it one day. Donald Trump is closing science offices throughout the federal government. ‘As of June, around 85 percent of all scientific posts in the federal government, including an official scientific advisor to the President, were left unfilled,’ write the editors of I F***ing Love Science blog in an […]
Ed Hawkins, a climate scientist, created Show Your Stripes as a way to easily visualize the past century's climate change: give it a location and it will render a series of stripes representing a century's worth of average annual temperatures (above: global average temperature); as Kottke notes: "The warming patterns for particular regions are not […]
When it comes to passwords, there’s no such thing as paranoia. You want them secure and complex, and you definitely don’t want to repeat them on all your accounts. The trouble is, the internet seems to keep growing. And so do those accounts. Just one lockout from an important email or banking site is enough […]
With the rising temperatures on tap this summer, the climate is going to be a frequent topic of conversation, and those conversations won’t be happy ones. Luckily, there’s a way to do a little climate change of your own – in a safe and sustainable way. When it comes to personal air conditioners, EvaPolar is […]
Whether you’re using them for next-level selfies or steady tracking shots, gimbals are a must for anyone who wants to maximize the potential of these powerful smartphone cameras we’re all carrying around. But those smartphones are also supposed to be portable, and let’s face it: Gimbals tend to offset that advantage. Weighing in at just […]