New brain research challenges our understanding of sleep



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An international study led by researchers from the University of Aarhus has for the first time uncovered brain patterns and large-scale brain networks that control sleep, bringing knowledge that could in the future help a great deal. part of people suffering from sleep problems.

We spend about a third of our lives sleeping, and sleep has fascinated researchers for many years. Research conducted by the Center for Brain Music at Aarhus University and Oxford University has now revealed, with unprecedented details, the patterns and networks used by the brain during sleep. The researchers used a technique called functional MRI as well as algorithms to identify models of brain activity.

"This provides a new and potentially revolutionary understanding of brain activity during sleep, which can lead to new forms of treatment of sleep problems that affect far too many people," says Angus Stevner, a postdoc at the Center for Disease Control. music in the brain of Aarhus University, which is behind the study.

The results have just been published in Nature Communications.

"Our findings may change the way we understand sleep and, most importantly, our way of looking at sleep disorders such as insomnia, and hopefully we can use this new detailed categorization of sleep to identify changes in sleep patterns. brain activity of people with some unexplained sleep disorders, such as dyssomnia or insomnia, which we currently can not explain, "says Stevner.

Can help with sleep problems

Sleep has traditionally been divided into four stages that all produce different brain waves due to the electrical activity of the brain, ranging from light sleep (the first stage) to deep sleep, to REM sleep. (rapid eye movement), and vice versa.

"This way of dividing sleep into stages is really based on historical conventions, many of which date back to the 1930s. We have developed a more precise and detailed description of sleep as a larger number of brain networks that modify their modes of communication. and dynamic characteristics during sleep, "explains Angus Stevner.

Nearly half of the Danish population has sleep problems. The researchers hope that a more complete and detailed representation of how brain networks are changing can help them develop better models of the role played by sleep.

New insights into cerebral activity during our sleep

"At the moment, we do not understand in a coherent way what is happening in the brain of a person suffering from insomnia, but also the role of sleep in mental disorders, where sleep disorders are extremely frequent, "says the researcher.

In recent years, advances in modern brain analysis techniques have led to a much more nuanced understanding of the complexity of the brain, which traditional sleep stages do not take into account.

"Our results provide a modern description of human sleep as a function of the complex activities of the brain network.We try to move from the somewhat simplified image that characterizes up to now our understanding of the activity. during sleep, "he said.

How nature shapes the sleeping brain

More information:
A. B. A. Stevner et al., Discovery of major transitions and dynamics of the whole brain during human wake and non-paradoxal sleep, Nature Communications (2019). DOI: 10.1038 / s41467-019-08934-3

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University of Aarhus

New brain research challenges our understanding of sleep (March 22, 2019)
recovered on March 22, 2019

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