Sleep is a mysterious activity. All animals that have been tested so far, from the simplest invertebrates to the highest mammals, have shown to possess – and to require – the fundamental characteristics of sleep, independently of the size or the complexity of their nervous systems. In all animals sleep is a vital necessity, as chronic sleep deprivation leads to a still unexplained death. Most animals sleep for a considerable fraction of their life and also the molecular basis of sleep regulation seem to be strongly conserved as most species respond in the same way to many hypnotic drugs or wake-stimulants. This remarkable conservation across evolution suggests that the core function of sleep has to be sought at the basic cell biological level of neuronal function, namely that sleep is an intrinsic requirement of any neuronal network and, possibly, every neuron (or even cell?). Yet, so far, most of the efforts in investigating the function of sleep have been focused on electrophysiological analysis of the sleeping brain in a very descriptive fashion. We know a great deal about the EEG (electroencephalogram) correlates of sleep and wakefulness but this knowledge could not, by itself, shed a deep light on the function of sleep.
My goal is to tackle the problem from a different perspective, using a combination of genetics, molecular biology and bioinformatics.Sleep
, learning and memory
, 3D printing
- Gilestro GF. Video tracking and analysis of sleep in Drosophila melanogaster. Nat Protoc. 2012 Apr 26;7(5):995-1007. PMID: 22538850.