Lack Of Sleep Really Does Slow Brain Cells Down

Brain cells called neurons were found to fire more weakly and take longer to respond in a study of 12 people kept awake all night

Brain cells called neurons were found to fire more weakly and take longer to respond in a study of 12 people kept awake all night

"You can imagine driving a auto and suddenly somebody jumps in front of the vehicle at night", Fried says.

You're not alone, and for the first time scientists believe they have discovered why this happens.

The investigation involved 12 people whose neurons in the brain was observed and thereby it was concluded that sleep deprivation can create electrical blasts and disrupt the electrical movement in the brain which actually leads to mental lapses.

A new study has explained how sleep deprivation leads to temporary mental lapses that affect memory and visual perception.

Professor of neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Tel Aviv University, Itzhak Fried, spoke to The Times. Fried explained that this is a reflection of how the brain reacts to different things and situations around us.

For the study, Fried, along with an global team of scientists, studied 12 people preparing to undergo surgery for epilepsy at UCLA.

Fried and his colleagues studied 12 patients preparing to have surgery for epilepsy, which meant their brains had already been fitted with electrodes to try and detect the locations of seizures before their operations.

For the study, researchers examined 12 exhausted epileptic patients who had electrodes implanted into their brains to pinpoint the origin of their seizures.

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They were then tasked with categorising a selection of images as fast as possible while implants recorded their brain activity.

Such brain farts can prove more consequential than lost keys: The findings show how little society cares about sleep deprivation, he said.

During the study, it was greatly noted that sleepier patients had slower response rates, parallel to the brain cell firing.

Lead author Dr Yuval Nir, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, said: 'We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity.

"Unlike the usual rapid reaction", he says, "the neurons responded slowly, fired more weakly, and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual".

The researchers discovered that lack of sleep interfered with the neurons' ability to encode information and translate visual input into conscious thought. A exhausted driver, for example, may not notice a pedestrian stepping in front of his auto. "It takes longer for his brain to register what he's perceiving", says Dr. Nir. In these patients, Freud said "the neurons are responding slower".

The scientists focused particularly on the temporal lobe - the region of the brain which regulates visual perception and memory. They found that lack of sleep causes bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use in communication to weaken and slow down.

The phenomenon suggests that select regions of the patients' brains were dozing, causing mental lapses, while the rest of the brain was awake and running normally.

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