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Wed, 30 Sep 2020 3:30 PM

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Dr. Graham Diering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

The stuff dreams are made of: Remodeling synapses during sleep 

Sleep is an essential and conserved behavior known to support brain health and cognitive function. Acute sleep disruption causes immediate effects on learning and memory, and chronic sleep disruption is associated with many diseases. Indeed, a majority of individuals with autism spectrum disorder show some degree of sleep disruption. Declines in sleep amount and quality are an expected component of aging that contributes to the risk of developing Alzheimer's disease. Therefore, understanding and treating sleep disorders is likely to be important in a wide range of conditions covering the entire span of life. The molecular basis for sleep's restorative processes are poorly understood. Our lab has shown that synapses, the connections between neurons, undergo profound remodeling in their composition during sleep, suggesting that synapses are one important target for sleep's ability to support cognition and brain health. We are now examining how sleep modifies synapses in the context of brain development during childhood and adolescence and in the context of autism spectrum and Alzheimer's disease. Our goal is to develop next-generation sleep-based medicines based on a mechanistic understanding of sleep's restorative processes.

For more information: http://dieringlab.web.unc.edu/