Why it matters: Scientists hope that a better understanding of how zebrafish sleep releases at the cellular level pathways for new treatments for sleep disorders that affect 50-70 million Americans, but are often undiagnosed. It could also improve their understanding of the role of sleep in memory and in our physical health.
What they did: Zebrafish lacks a neocortex – the part of the mammalian brain that is involved in higher-order functions such as sleep and the goal of sleep studies – therefore, scientists at Stanford University and from institutions in Japan had to and France find a workaround.
- They used two-week-old zebrafish because they are transparent and therefore ideal for fluorescent imaging techniques.
- They also performed other experiments to determine the effects of certain compounds on sleep and wake cycles of zebrafish.
What they found: Ependymal cells, which are found in humans and zebrafish and known to play a role in the brain and spinal cord, are among the first to activate as Fi. They fall asleep.
- The researchers also found that human hypnotics compounds contained in sleeping pills and anesthetics can also induce sleep phases in fish that are similar to those of humans.
- Similar to humans, chemicals are released by neurons in the zebrafish brain, which regulates the muscles and sleep of the living being.
What's new: Scientists had observed invertebrates (squid, insects) and vertebrates (fish, amphibians, birds, mammals) asleep, but the physiological signatures of sleep. Like rapid eye movements, which have been observed only in mammals, birds and reptiles, says study co-author Philippe Mourrain of Stanford University Axios.
What They Say: "You can not just say sleep is sleep," said Jerry Siegel, a sleep scientist at UCLA who was not involved in the study, told National Geographic. He warned that the connections between the sleep of young zebrafish and the sleep of humans are less simple than the study suggests. For example, he said, many mammals lack REM sleep completely, and some mammals sleep 20 hours a day while others only need 6 to 8 hours or less.
The lead author of the study, Louis C. Leung of Stanford, says Axios:
"I encourage everyone to appreciate what took hundreds of millions of years to create, and hope to be in public If there is a change in the meaning of sleep, we should be proud that we are not ashamed to get enough sleep. "  What Next: The development of animal models to study sleep functions at the cellular level, as in this study, could lead to the treatment of sleep disorders associated with mental disorders, Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Go deeper: Americans sleep more