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Catching Zs may snag memories, too

Fruit flies that snooze can overcome memory deficits, raising hope for Alzheimer’s and other patients

12:00pm, April 23, 2015

Sleep can restore the memory of profoundly forgetful fruit flies. That raises the possibility that promoting sleep in people with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory disorders might ease their symptoms, too.

The flies were able to overcome memory-stealing mutations with something as simple as some solid rest, scientists report online April 23 in Current Biology. “Quite honestly, this is a stunning result,” says study coauthor Paul Shaw of Washington University in St. Louis. “We take flies that are bad and we make them better. We don’t just prevent their deficits. We reverse them.”

If the fly research, on Drosophila melanogaster, 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 neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester

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