(ORDO NEWS) — When it’s cold around, waking up is especially hard. A study conducted by neuroscientists from Northwestern University made it possible to elucidate the mechanisms underlying this phenomenon. A research article was published in Current Biology .
As an object for their research, scientists have chosen fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster . Neuroscientists have identified a functional diagram of the “internal thermometer” of an insect that transmits information about the ambient temperature from the antennae of a fly into its brain. Due to this connection, the neurons responsible for wakefulness and activity are inhibited.
“It helps explain why it is so difficult for both flies and humans to wake up in the morning in winter,” says Marco Gallio, assistant professor of neurobiology. “By studying the behavior of fruit flies, we can better understand how and why temperature is important for regulating sleep.”
Scientists have discovered in D.melanogaster antennae the so-called absolute cold neurons that respond only to temperatures that are below a certain indicator that is comfortable for a fly (about 25 degrees Celsius).
The data that these neurons send is the small group of cells in the brain. It, in turn, is part of a relatively large neural circuit that controls the change of sleep and wakefulness. When cells in this group are active, they turn off other neurons that are activated in response to sunlight, and help the brain wake up.
What does this work have to do with people? Fruit flies are a classic model object for studying circadian rhythms. And just like in flies, in humans, activity cycles depend on lighting and ambient temperature, which means that the severity of morning awakening in the cold is due to a similar neural circuit.
“The principles that we find in the brain of a fly, its logic and organization can be exactly the same in humans. Whether it’s a fly, a person, sensory systems must solve the same problems, so they often do it the same way. ”
The work of scientists from Northwestern University not only makes it possible to understand the features of thermoregulation of the brain. This study may be the basis for developing strategies for treating sleep disorders.
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