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Study Reveals Body Clock Affects Brain Connections

11-10-2010

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have used zebra fish in a study that has shown how the circadian clock and sleep affect neuron-to-neuron connections in a particular region of the brain. A gene named NPTX2b was identified as being involved in regulating the rhythmic changes in synapses.

The study consisted of a fluorescence-imaging technique which monitored the neural activity in the brain which regulates sleeping and waking. Researchers were then able to watch how synapses changed between day and night. The study is thought to further demonstrate the brain’s ability to reorganise and adapt to changes.

Co-author, Dr. Lior Appelbaum commented; ‘This is the first time differences in the number of synapses between day and night and between wake and sleep have been shown in a living animal’

Although the study cannot be directly applied to humans, it serves as an indicator of how the living brain operates and how brain connections fluctuate during the course of a 24 hour period.

The study is published in the latest addition of Neuron.

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