Navigation Links
Sleep switch found in fruit flies
Date:6/23/2011

Rather than count sheep, drink warm milk or listen to soothing music, many insomniacs probably wish for a switch they could flick to put themselves to sleep.

Scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have discovered such a switch in the brains of fruit flies. In a study appearing June 24 in Science, the researchers show that a group of approximately 20 cells in the brains of fruit flies controls when and how long the flies sleep. Slumber induced through this sleep switch was essential to the creation of long-term memory, directly proving a connection between memory and sleep that scientists have long suspected.

"This is exciting because this induced sleep state so far appears to be very similar to spontaneous sleep," says Paul Shaw, PhD, associate professor of neurobiology. "That means we can manipulate these cells to explore a whole new realm of questions about the purposes of sleep. Such studies might one day lead us to more natural ways of inducing sleep in humans."

The key cells are found in an area of the fly brain known as the dorsal fan-shaped body. Scientists in Shaw's lab genetically modified the cells to increase their activity. One effect of making these cells more active was that adult flies slept for an additional seven hours a day.

When scientists added a gene that increases the cells' activity only at warmer temperatures, they could determine when and how long flies would sleep by simply adjusting the temperature in the flies' habitats.

To analyze the similarity of induced sleep to spontaneous sleep, scientists tested whether induced slumber was essential to the formation of long-term memories. In a process called courtship conditioning, male flies were exposed to other males genetically modified to make female sex pheromones.

"The subject fly will initiate courtship because of the female pheromones, but the modified male making those pheromones inevitably rejects him," says first author Jeff Donlea, PhD, now a postdoctoral research assistant at Oxford University. "This is an ecologically relevant way to test memory because a male fly in the wild needs to quickly assess whether a particular female is interested in mating so that he doesn't waste time making unproductive advances."

The researchers used a training protocol that normally only creates a memory that lasts a few hours in fruit flies. After being "rejected" multiple times over three hours, the fly learns not to make advances when he encounters the altered male again at a later time. But when scientists used the cells in the dorsal fan-shaped body to put the fly to sleep immediately after training, the fly formed a long-term memory of his experience that lasted for at least several days.

To rule out the possibility that the increased excitability of the cells could be directly responsible for the long-term memory, scientists activated the sleep-regulating cells following training but prevented the flies from sleeping. The flies did not remember the training, indicating that sleep itself was important for the consolidation of memory.

Scientists have yet to determine whether a counterpart for the dorsal fan-shaped body exists in human brains. Shaw's lab is currently working to see if the cells they singled out can be matched to other brain cell types based on the chemical messengers they produce.


'/>"/>

Contact: Michael C. Purdy
purdym@wustl.edu
314-286-0122
Washington University School of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Kids May Have Genetic Cause
2. Sleep HealthCenters to Sponsor North East Sleep Society 2010
3. America's Hidden Pandemic: 100 Million Suffer From Sleep Problems
4. Solutions for Sleep Problems: Harvard's Improving Sleep Special Health Report and New Sleep Apnea Video
5. Behavioral therapy improves sleep and lives of patients with pain
6. Sleep problems and sleepiness increase the risk of motor vehicle accidents in adolescents
7. Severe sleep apnea decreases frequency of nightmare recall
8. Severe Sleep Apnea Has Silver Lining
9. The role of sleep in brain development
10. Sleep More, Lose Weight – Sleeplessness Linked to Obesity
11. National Sleep Awareness Week(R) (March 7-13): How Are You Sleeping?
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/6/2016)... (PRWEB) , ... May 06, 2016 , ... Tijuana Bariatrics ... which the practice operates, is now dedicated solely to bariatrics. , This means that ... ever before. The expansion of the fourth floor improves the practice’s ability to treat ...
(Date:5/6/2016)... ... ... associated with Mother’s Day is mixed with worry and fear for new mothers those whose ... For the first time ever, the March of Dimes and Random Acts ... beside a crib surrounded by lifesaving equipment or peering through a glass window at a ...
(Date:5/6/2016)... Jupiter, FL (PRWEB) , ... May 06, 2016 ... ... it will feature AsedaSciences® in an upcoming episode, airing third quarter 2016, via ... with the vision of becoming a leader in optimized drug discovery through innovative ...
(Date:5/6/2016)... ... 06, 2016 , ... From the Speaker Podium to the Exhibit Floor at ... insights on managing Customers Engagement at SpeechTek 2016 Event, taking place May 23-25 at ... a Presentation on “5 Customer Engagement Strategies to improve Customer Satisfaction in ...
(Date:5/6/2016)... ... May 06, 2016 , ... Yisrayl Hawkins, Pastor and Overseer at The House of Yahweh, ... he has found in the Bible about helping to stop cancer. Yisrayl says there are ... his hope that the health and science industries will pay close attention and take action. ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/4/2016)... May 4, 2016 ... the  "Global Actinic Keratosis Market and Competitive ... offering.       (Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20160330/349511LOGO ... and Competitive Landscape Highlights 2016, provides comprehensive ... Keratosis epidemiology, Actinic Keratosis market valuations and ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... 3, 2016 BioNovus Innovations LLC and ... Advancing Medical Innovation (IAMI) today announced a new ... and medical devices. An agreement between ... to license, develop and commercialize medical innovations advanced ... "This partnership represents a significant advance in our ...
(Date:5/3/2016)... 3, 2016  As a teenager, an active and ... which damaged his heart. He continued enjoying sports and ... 2013, Shepherd,s heart was giving out and he was ... 20, 2013, the Mesa, Arizona ... Like a heart transplant, the SynCardia TAH-t is the ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: