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Sleep deprivation hits some brain areas hard

Some regions resist drowsiness, while others falter without slumber

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2:00pm, August 11, 2016
sleep-deprived people

SLUGGISH  Brain regions involved with problem solving are especially slow to respond when sleep-deprived, a new study shows.

Pulling consecutive all-nighters makes some brain areas groggier than others. Regions involved with problem solving and concentration become especially sluggish when sleep-deprived, a new study using brain scans reveals. Other areas keep ticking along, appearing to be less affected by a mounting sleep debt.

The results might lead to a better understanding of the rhythmic nature of symptoms in certain psychiatric or neurodegenerative disorders, says study coauthor Derk-Jan Dijk. People with dementia, for instance, can be afflicted with “sundowning,” which worsens their symptoms at the end of the day. More broadly, the findings, published August 12 in Science, document the brain’s response to too little shut-eye.

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