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Gene predicts how brain responds to fatigue, human study shows
Date:6/24/2009

n and cognitive control also called executive function. The researchers imaged each participant four times: the night before and the morning after a good night's sleep, and the night before and morning after a sleepless night.

They found that the resilient, short gene variant group compensated for sleep loss by "recruiting" extra brain structures. In addition to brain structures normally activated by the cognitive task, these participants showed increased activity in other frontal, temporal, and subcortical brain structures after a sleepless night.

In contrast, after a sleepless night, vulnerable participants, the long PER3 group, showed reduced activity in brain structures normally activated by the task. These participants also showed reduced brain activity in one brain structure the right posterior inferior frontal gyrus after a normal waking day. These data are consistent with previous research suggesting that people with the long gene variant perform better on executive tasks earlier, but not later, in the day.

"Our study uncovers some of the networks underlying individual differences in sleep loss vulnerability and shows for the first time how genetic differences in brain activity associate with cognitive performance and fatigue," said study author Maquet. "The data also provide a basis for the development of measures to counteract individual cognitive deficits associated with sleep loss," he said.

"This study and others like it could help in identifying those who may be at risk for performance decline in jobs where sleep deprivation is an integral feature, for example- all-night health care staff, senior decision makers, commercial aircraft pilots, and truck drivers. Such knowledge might also guide the development of more effective, possibly personalized countermeasures for at-risk people," said Chee, the expert unaffiliated with the study.


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Contact: Todd Bentsen
tbentsen@sfn.org
202-962-4086
Society for Neuroscience
Source:Eurekalert

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