Sleeping neurons may be at the root of the most common symptoms of sleep deprivation, including attention lapses, poor judgment, and frequent mistakes in cognitive tasks. Specifically, populations of neurons in the brains of rats forced to stay awake briefly go "off-line," into a sleep-like state, according to a study published today (April 27) in linkurl:Nature.;
Sleep-deprived rat during sugar pellet test
Courtesy of Yuval Nir, University of Wisconsin-Madison
"We've all have this experience where we're forcing ourselves to stay awake later than we usually do," said linkurl:Christopher Colwell,; who studies sleep and circadian rhythms at the University of California, Los Angeles, and was not involved in the study. "We can still perform -- we're still obviously awake -- but...a person's performance is not as good," he said. "So, what's going on during that time?"Neuroscientist linkurl:Giulio Tononi,; along with Vlad Vyazovskiy and a team at the University of...
Nature. Vyazovskiy, V., et al., "Local sleep in awake rats," Nature, 472:443-7, 2011.

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