Cool Science News: 2009-03-29

Sleep May Help Clear Brain For New LearningWashington University scientists used genetically modified fruit flies to track the creation of new brain synapses, junctures where two brain cells communicate. They found that two scenarios that give the fruit flys brain a workout caused new synapses to arise. To their surprise, all of the new synapses originated from a group of 16 cells in the fly brains internal timekeeping mechanism. The cells are highlighted in the encircled area above. Credit: Image courtesy of Washington University School of MedicineFrom Science Daily:ScienceDaily Apr. 3, 2009 — A new theory about sleeps benefits for the brain gets a boost from fruit flies in the journal Science. Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis found evidence that sleep, already recognized as a promoter of long-term memories, also helps clear room in the brain for new learning.The critical question: How many synapses, or junctures where nerve cells communicate with each other, are modified by sleep? Neurologists believe creation of new synapses is one key way the brain encodes memories and learning, but this cannot continue unabated and may be where sleep comes in.Read more ….

via Cool Science News: 2009-03-29.

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