Experiment Reveals that Brain Circuit Contributes to Sleep-Wake Cycle

Sep 06, 2016 06:51 PM EDT | Sovan Mandal

Scientists claimed to have hit upon the specific region of the brain that deals with the sleep or wake functionality of invertebrates.

The above conclusion has been drawn when researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine successfully located a brain circuit that has been found to have a key role to play in the sleep and wake activity, claimed ScienceDaily.

The report further mentioned that the particular circuit also happens to be a vital part of the brain's reward system. The latter in turn can be described as an archipelago of interconnected clusters of the brain that has an important role to play in ensuring animals including humans to survive and reproduce.

Scientists further stated it is only natural for the sleep/wake cycle to be a subset of the reward system that allows for goal-oriented behaviour. For instance, anyone who is hungry will have all its focus devoted to find food and sleep would be the last thing on his mind. Similarly, it is only after a hearty meal will the thought of sleep take over and so on.

Scientists also claimed the discovery has a huge potential to deal with sleeplessness or insomnia. With about 25 - 30 percent of Americans affected by sleep disorders of some kind or the other, the corresponding pharmaceutical industry is already pegged to be worth several billion dollars.

While its drugs like benzodiazepines that was used to treat insomnia and which essentially works by shutting down the entire brain, the latest discovery has the potential to introduce a more targeted medication to induce sleep.

"Now we see the possibility of developing therapies that, by narrowly targeting this newly identified circuit, could induce much higher-quality sleep," said Luis de Lecea, senior author and professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.

However, before anyone gets too excited with the findings so far, what should be kept in mind is that the research so far has only shown potential in mice and human tests are still pending. There is no guarantee either that the invention will be just as promising in humans though scientists are hopeful it will be.

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