Synapses in the hippocampus are larger and stronger after sleep deprivation, according to new research in mice published in JNeurosci. Overall, this study supports the idea that sleep may universally weaken synapses that are strengthened from learning, allowing for new learning to occur after waking.
Sleep may universally weaken synapses strengthened from learning, which allows new learning to occur after waking
Sleep is thought to recalibrate synaptic strength after a day of learning, allowing for new learning to take place the next day. Chiara Cirelli and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examined how synapses in the hippocampus, a structure involved in learning, changed following sleep and sleep deprivation in mice.
Researchers observed the following results
Consistent with previous studies in the cortex, the researchers observed that synapses were larger, and therefore stronger, after the mice were awake for six to seven hours compared to after they were asleep for the same amount of time. Additionally, the researchers found that the synapses were strongest when the mice were forced to stay awake and interact with new stimuli, compared to mice that stayed awake on their own. This is consistent with the hippocampus’ role in learning, and suggests that synaptic changes take place when learning occurs, not merely from being awake.
- Spano, G.M. et al. (2019) Sleep deprivation by exposure to novel objects increases synapse density and axon-spine interface in the hippocampal CA1 region of adolescent mice. Journal of Neuroscience. doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0380-19.2019.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry , join her Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health, and find more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.