Half-asleep rats look wide awake | Science News

ADVERTISEMENT

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Half-asleep rats look wide awake

Parts of the brain can doze off while an animal remains active

By
1:01pm, April 27, 2011

Some parts of a rat’s brain can fall asleep even while the animal plays and seems wide awake, a new study shows.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and their colleagues in Italy kept rats up four hours past the rodents’ usual bedtime. Even though the rats stayed awake, electrodes implanted in their brains showed that some brain cells went to sleep while neighboring ones remained active, the team reports in the April 28 Nature.

Rats with sleeping neurons were also prone to making mistakes during slightly difficult tasks, a finding that may have implications for sleep-deprived people.

“And it would be very insidious because nobody would be able to tell there was anything wrong with you,” says Giulio Tononi, the University of Wisconsin neuroscientist who led the work. The rats in the study weren’t “staring off into the void or anything,” he says.

The findings add to a growing bo

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from this issue of Science News

[title_1]
From the Nature Index Paid Content