Medicine

Sleep-deprivation similar to being drunk, leads to memory lapses

Sleep-deprivation similar to being drunk, leads to memory lapses

"We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity", said lead author Yuval Nir of Tel Aviv University. To trigger seizures so as to know the seizure origins in the brain the researchers had sleep deprived the patients for evaluation under controlled situations.

Sleep rhythms can disrupt normal activity in specific regions of the brain, said researchers from Tel Aviv University, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Fried said, "These are the very neurons [that] are responsible for the way you process the world in front of you".

This slowing down impairs the cells' ability to communicate, leading to mental lapses that can affect both perception and memory. Now researchers want to explore what causes the brain cell communication failures behind mental lapses. The patients were hospitalized for a week and implanted with electrodes to pinpoint the place in the brain where their seizures originated.

While awake, the subjects were asked to sort a variety of images in the shortest time they could.

The scientists zeroed in on the temporal lobe, which regulates visual perception and memory.

Unsurprisingly, as people got more exhausted, they struggled more with the task. Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly, fired more weakly and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual'.

Lack of sleep interfered with the neurons' ability to encode information and translate visual input into conscious thought.

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Scientists were able to prove that a person's worldview is affected by this aspect, as the abundance of sleep. When drivers are exhausted, for example, their attention wanders because the neurons aren't responding as efficiently as they should.

An worldwide team of researchers has found that brain activity is weaker and slower in people who are sleep-deprived.

And, the authors said, it might be time for a rethink on how we view sleep deprivation, which can have a similar effect on the brain to alcohol intoxication.

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.

The researchers insist that sleep deprivation should be taken much more seriously than it now is, given its real dangers. Dr.

"Inadequate sleep exerts a similar influence on our brain as drinking too much", says Dr. "Yet no legal or medical standards exist for identifying over-tired drivers the same way we target drunk drivers". Fried even goes as far as to compare lack of sleep with overdrinking, and to suggest that more adequate actions should be taken against exhausted driving.