Sleep is important for long lasting memories, particularly during this exam season. Research publishing in PLOS Computational Biology suggests that sleeping triggers the synapses in our brain to both strengthen and weaken, which prompts the forgetting, strengthening or modification of our memories in a process known as long-term potentiation (LTP).
Researchers led by Sidarta Ribeiro at the Brain Institute of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, measured the levels of a protein related to LTP during the sleep cycle of rats. The authors then used the data to build models of sleep-dependent synaptic plasticity.
The results show that sleep can have completely different effects depending on whether LTP is present or not. A lack of LTP leads to memory erasure, while the presence of LTP can either strengthen memories or prompt the emergence of new ones.
The research provides an empirical and theoretical framework to understand the mechanisms underlying the complex role of sleep for learning, which involves selective remembering as well as creativity.
Image Credit: Blanco et al.
Image Link: https:/
All works published in PLOS Computational Biology are Open Access, which means that all content is immediately and freely available. Use this URL in your coverage to provide readers access to the paper upon publication: http://www.
Press-only preview: https:/
Address: Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte
Av. Nascimento de Castro 2155
Natal, RN 59056-450
Phone: 55 84 3215 2706
Citation: Blanco W, Pereira CM, Cota VR, Souza AC, Rennó-Costa C, Santos S, et al. (2015) Synaptic Homeostasis and Restructuring across the Sleep-Wake Cycle. PLoS Comput Biol 11(5): e1004241.doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004241
Funding: Support obtained from Financiadora de Estudos e Projetos (http://www.
Competing Interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.
About PLOS Computational BiologyPLOS Computational Biology features works of exceptional significance that further our understanding of living systems at all scales through the application of computational methods. All works published in PLOS Computational Biology are Open Access. All content is immediately available and subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained. For more information follow @PLOSCompBiol on Twitter or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
About PLOSPLOS is a nonprofit publisher and advocacy organization founded to accelerate progress in science and medicine by leading a transformation in research communication. For more information, visit http://www.