Researchers from Israel, France and the USA have studied the brain activity of sleep-deprived people and came to the conclusion: lack of sleep impairs the communication between neurons. This leads to problems with memory and difficult concentration. It is reported online edition of Naked Science, citing an article in the journal Nature Medicine.
According to scientists, such a mechanism is similar to the effect of alcohol. So lack of sleep can also be dangerous in situations that require concentration, such as driving a car.
Earlier studies have shown that the sleep deficit there are many potentially dangerous consequences. It causes memory impairment and increases the propensity to risky financial decisions. One of the main problems is that sleepy people are not always aware of how changed his behavior.
Participants in the new study, 12 patients suffering from epilepsy. They are all scrubbed in and were monitoring brain activity using electrocorticography. During the examination of this method to certain areas of the cerebral cortex is superimposed on the electrode grid, fixing flash bioelectrical activity. The researchers studied the activity of several brain areas including the temporal lobe of the cortex. This region relate with visual perception and visual memory.
Patients are asked as quickly as possible to divide the sequence of images by category. People were shown pictures of celebrities, as well as landscapes and images of animals. Each photo, scientists have shown for 0.2 seconds and asked the patient to determine if it has a human face. Four patients before experience spent days without sleep – that demanded medical procedures. All participants coped with the task, but those who did not sleep before the experience, the reaction was slower and the activity of neurons is much weaker. The transmission of signals between neurons also slowed down. In certain areas of the brain, scientists have recorded the rhythms characteristic of sleep state, although trial participants in the time awake.
The study has several limitations, which are noted by the authors. A sample of 12 people is small, so confirm the results of this work can larger studies. However, scientists believe that their work will help to draw attention to the problem of the influence of lack of sleep on concentration. Says one of the authors Itzhak fried: “Strong fatigue has on the brain effects similar to the effects of excess alcohol. However, there is no legal or medical standards, allowing to identify sleepy drivers as well as drunk”.
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