Tiredness at the wheel compared to drink driving

A study has found a lack of sleep makes us feel foggy for a reason because brain cells lose their ability to communicate with each other

That weakening in the brain's signalling network can lead to lapses in memory and problems concentrating, and in some ways is comparable to being drunk, say the researchers. Researchers of University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Tel Aviv University have proven this in their published study that appeared in the journal Nature Medicine online this Monday (6th of November 2017).

The researcher could monitor over 1500 nerves in the brain cells.

Scientists have now discovered that the actual problem with sleep deprivation is that your brain cells switch off while you are still awake, leading to anything from forgetting your keys to vehicle crashes.

"We discovered that starving the body of sleep also robs neurons of the ability to function properly", said Itzhak Fried, senior author of the study. A exhausted driver, for example, may not notice a pedestrian stepping in front of his auto. These findings were found incidentally during the evaluation. As part of the procedure, doctors placed wires connected to the brain to find out where a patient's seizures started. And as the study participants slowed down, so did their brain cells. Some epilepsy patients develop seizures on sleep deprivation. The researchers asked participants to do the same task on less and less sleep; at the end, four volunteers even stayed awake the entire night (which, coincidentally, is one way to trigger a seizure).

As they were faced with an image, regions in their brains lit up as they processed the image. As they were faced with an image, regions in their brains lit up as they processed the image.

"The acute effects of a lack of sleep can also cause cognitive and behavioral lapses that contribute to accident-induced injury or death", the researchers write.

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It seems that both states of being cause neurons to respond more slowly, meaning brain signals are slower and weaker. During this activity, the electrodes recorded a total of nearly 1,500 brain cells firing off from all the patients, with the researchers paying particular attention to those located within the temporal lobe, the part of the brain responsible for regulating visual perception as well as memory.

Results showed that a lack of sleep caused the neurons to respond to visual stimulus at a much slower place, while transmissions were found to drag on longer than normal. Fried said, "The responses are diminished, and they are smeared over longer periods of time".

The investigation involved 12 people whose neurons in the brain was observed and thereby it was concluded that sleep deprivation can create electrical blasts and disrupt the electrical movement in the brain which actually leads to mental lapses. He said this affects the perception as well as memory.

Drowsy driving in the U.S.is responsible for more than 70,000 crashes a year according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, based on estimates and statistics gathered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"Severe fatigue exerts a similar influence on the brain to drinking too much", says Fried.

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