By Alex Bortolsky, Staff ReporterA new study has revealed that the brain can be in a “state of sleep” for up to 30 minutes before it starts to deteriorate.
The study, which was published in the journal PLoS ONE, looked at people who had been diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder who had experienced significant symptoms of the disorder during the last three months of life.
It found that the sleepiness was triggered by a brain circuit known as the ventral pallidum, or PV, that regulates sleep.
The researchers were able to detect the PV on EEG recordings, which could tell them how long the person was sleeping.
While sleepiness is a normal physiological response, this study shows that it’s not necessarily the result of a malfunction in the brain.
It shows that there is a brain mechanism that controls sleep.
Professor Rachael L. Smith, of the University of York, said: “It’s an important study.
It is the first study that actually shows that the PV is involved in sleep and that this circuit controls sleep in the absence of other brain structures.”
We need to know whether it is possible to make changes to the brain to stop it from doing this, and it’s possible that we will.
“The study also looked at how the PV affects sleep in people who do not have schizophrenia or have bipolar disorder.
It showed that the symptoms were not caused by a faulty brain circuit.
Instead, it was caused by an abnormal brain chemistry called the hypocretin system.”
It is important to point out that it was a placebo,” said Professor Smith.”
The patient was given a cocktail of drugs and their symptoms improved.
This is a placebo effect.
It’s not that the drugs made their symptoms better, but that their symptoms were better.
“The results also showed that there was no significant change in sleep quality, and the PV activity remained unchanged.”
This finding is consistent with the notion that PV is not a pathological mechanism that causes the sleep disturbance in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder,” said Dr Rebecca Bortolino, from the University’s School of Medicine.”
These findings support the notion of a non-specific causal link between the PV and sleep, but it also provides a model that could explain the changes in sleep observed in schizophrenia or in bipolar disorder.
“There are a number of reasons why people with schizophrenia and in bipolar affective disorder do not experience an increased sleepiness, but this study suggests that it is a different mechanism that is involved.
Professor Smith said:”This study shows for the first time that PV activity is altered in the frontal cortex and in other brain regions that control sleep.
This suggests that PV plays a role in regulating sleep.
“The findings may have implications for the way that people with bipolar affect have their sleep.
Dr Smith said the study could help explain why people may experience the symptoms of schizophrenia while having their symptoms lessened.”
In bipolar disorder, the symptoms can be exacerbated by drugs, and these drugs can also be used to treat people with epilepsy,” she said.”
But if the person is in remission, they may not have these symptoms.
“Professor Smith is also working on another study that uses brain imaging to investigate how PV is affected in schizophrenia.