Catching ZZZs may retrieve lost memories
Sleep can restore memories in forgetful fruit flies,new data show. This raises hope that some extraZZZs might also help people with Alzheimer's diseaseand other memory disorders.
For a series of new experiments, researchers altered the genes of fruit flies. This causedvarious types of memory problems in the bugs. But the flies could get their memories back. Allthey needed was some solid snooze time.
"Quite honestly, this is a stunning result," says Paul Shaw. A coauthor of the study, he work sat Washington University in St. Louis, Mo. "We take flies that are bad and we make them better," he notes. His team published details of its work online April 23 in Current Biology.
If the fly research can be translated to people, the results suggest that "we ought to take the frequent sleep disturbances in the aging population much more seriously," says Maiken Nedergaard. She's a brain researcher, or neuroscientist, at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York. Even simple steps to promote sleep might benefit people with memory trouble, she says. Those steps can include getting more exercise and consuming less caffeine(which can make it hard to fall asleep).
Insects and people are different. That means the fly research doesn't necessarily apply to us.Still, dozing fruit flies act a lot like people. Sleeping flies hold very still. Snoozing flies are hard to wake up.