Navigation Links
New study shows how seals sleep with only half their brain at a time

TORONTO, ON A new study led by an international team of biologists has identified some of the brain chemicals that allow seals to sleep with half of their brain at a time.

The study was published this month in the Journal of Neuroscience and was headed by scientists at UCLA and the University of Toronto. It identified the chemical cues that allow the seal brain to remain half awake and asleep. Findings from this study may explain the biological mechanisms that enable the brain to remain alert during waking hours and go off-line during sleep.

"Seals do something biologically amazing they sleep with half their brain at a time. The left side of their brain can sleep while the right side stays awake. Seals sleep this way while they're in water, but they sleep like humans while on land. Our research may explain how this unique biological phenomenon happens" said Professor John Peever of the University of Toronto.

The study's first author, University of Toronto PhD student Jennifer Lapierre, made this discovery by measuring how different chemicals change in the sleeping and waking sides of the brain. She found that acetylcholine an important brain chemical was at low levels on the sleeping side of the brain but at high levels on the waking side. This finding suggests that acetylcholine may drive brain alertness on the side that is awake.

But, the study also showed that another important brain chemical serotonin - was present at the equal levels on both sides of the brain whether the seals were awake or asleep. This was a surprising finding because scientist long thought that serotonin was a chemical that causes brain arousal.

These findings have possible human health implications because "about 40% of North Americans suffer from sleep problems and understanding which brain chemicals function to keep us awake or asleep is a major scientific advance. It could help solve the mystery of how and why we sleep" says the study's senior author Jerome Siegel of UCLA's Brain Research Institute.


Contact: Dominic Ali
University of Toronto

Related biology news :

1. Study shows that diet of resistant starch helps the body resist colorectal cancer
2. Breakthrough study opens door to broader biomedical applications for Raman spectroscopy
3. Phosphorus starvation linked to symptoms of citrus disease Huanglongbing in new study
4. Yale Study links common chemicals to osteoarthritis
5. CU-Boulder amphibian study shows how biodiversity can protect against disease
6. Busy beavers give Canada geese a lift, study shows
7. Video study shows which fish clean up coral reefs, showing importance of biodiversity
8. UCSB study of cocaine addiction reveals targets for treatment
9. Study in mice yields Angelman advance
10. Southwest regional warming likely cause of pinyon pine cone decline, says CU study
11. Nature Methods study: Using light to control cell clustering
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/16/2015)... Calif. , Nov 16, 2015  Synaptics ... of human interface solutions, today announced expansion of ... TouchView ™ touch controller and display driver ... revolution of smartphones. These new TDDI products add ... TD4100 (HD resolution), TD4302 (WQHD resolution), and TD4322 ...
(Date:11/12/2015)... 11, 2015   Growing need for low-cost, ... has been paving the way for use of ... discrete analytes in clinical, agricultural, environmental, food and ... used in medical applications, however, their adoption is ... to continuous emphasis on improving product quality and ...
(Date:11/10/2015)... , Nov. 10, 2015 ... behavioral biometrics that helps to identify and verify ... Signature is considered as the secure and accurate ... identification of a particular individual because each individual,s ... accurate results especially when dynamic signature of an ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/26/2015)... , England , November 26, 2015 ... Lightpoint Medical, an innovative medical device company specializing in imaging ... grant from the European Commission as part of the Horizon ... the company to carry out a large-scale clinical trial in ... -->      (Logo: , --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , November 25, 2015 2 ... première fois les différences entre les souches bactériennes ... celles des êtres humains . Ces recherches ... et envisager la prise en charge efficace de ... diagnostiqués chez les chats .    --> ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... 25, 2015  Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. (Nasdaq: NBIX ... and CEO of Neurocrine Biosciences, will be presenting at ... New York . .   ... approximately 5 minutes prior to the presentation to download ... presentation will be available on the website approximately one ...
(Date:11/25/2015)... , Nov. 25, 2015 Orexigen® Therapeutics, Inc. ... participate in a fireside chat discussion at the Piper ... York . The discussion is scheduled for Wednesday, ... .  A replay will be available for ... Stilwell  , Julie NormartVP, Corporate Communications and Business ...
Breaking Biology Technology: