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Sleep after learning enhances memory

A new study has revealed that sleep after learning strengthens connections between brain cells and enhances memory.

Researchers at NYU Langone Medical Centre have shown for the first time that sleep after learning encourages the growth of dendritic spines, the tiny protrusions from brain cells that connect to other brain cells and facilitate the passage of information across synapses, the junctions at which brain cells meet.

Moreover, the activity of brain cells during deep sleep, or slow-wave sleep, after learning is critical for such growth. The findings, in mice, provide important physical evidence in support of the hypothesis that sleep helps consolidate and strengthen new memories, and show for the first time how learning and sleep cause physical changes in the motor cortex, a brain region responsible for voluntary movements.

“We’ve known for a long time that sleep plays an important role in learning and memory. If you don’t sleep well you won’t learn well,” senior investigator Wen-Biao Gan, PhD, professor of neuroscience and physiology and a member of the Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine at NYU Langone Medical Centre, said.

“Here we’ve shown how sleep helps neurons form very specific connections on dendritic branches that may facilitate long-term memory. We also show how different types of learning form synapses on different branches of the same neurons, suggesting that learning causes very specific structural changes in the brain,” the researcher said.

On the cellular level, sleep is anything but restful: Brain cells that spark as we digest new information during waking hours replay during deep sleep, also known as slow-wave sleep, when brain waves slow down and rapid-eye movement, as well as dreaming, stops. Scientists have long believed that this nocturnal replay helps us form new memories, yet the structural changes underpinning this process have remained poorly understood.
Skipping breakfast does not influence weight loss or gain

A new research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) has found that regularly skipping breakfast did not influence weight loss or weight gain in a group of study participants.

According to Medical News Today, the study followed 309 otherwise-healthy overweight and obese adults over a 16-week time period. During that time, some experimental groups were told to skip breakfast and others were told to eat breakfast.

A separate control group was comprised of both breakfast eaters and breakfast skippers, but they were given health nutrition advice without any mention of breakfast. Overall, the researchers found no significant weight loss between the breakfast skippers and the breakfast eaters, Fox News reported.They hope their findings will dispel perpetuated myths surrounding weight loss techniques.
Air pollution may cause autism, schizophrenia

A new study has revealed that exposure to air pollution early in life makes people highly prone to autism and schizophrenia.

Deborah Cory-Slechta, PhD said that these findings raise new questions about whether the current regulatory standards for air quality are sufficient to protect our children.

The research stated that air pollution is made up mainly of carbon particles that are produced when fuel is burned by power plants, factories, and cars and different-sized particles produce different effects like, larger particles are least harmful because they are coughed up but it is believed that smaller particles known as ultrafine particles which are not regulated by the EPA are more dangerous, because they can produce toxic effects throughout the body.

The assumption led Slechta to design a set of experiments that would show whether ultrafine particles have a damaging effect on the brain, and if so, it will further help reveal the mechanism by which they inflict harm. Slechta had affirmed in her earlier study that the findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a crucial role in autism, as well as in other neuro developmental disorders.

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