The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly to
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young
for their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm
The Sleep Research Group is interested in the brain mechanisms sustaining sleep and wakefulness mainly through neuroimaging techniques and electrophysiology.
What are the functions of sleep? How can we maintain stable cognitive performance during an entire day? How come we are still able to perform cognitive tasks when we should be sleeping? Why is performance poorer if wakefulness is extended overnight? Why is sleep-wake regulation changing in aging? What is the impact of sleep quality on cognition over the lifetime? What are the brain substrates of sleep disorders? How is light/caffeine affecting alertness and sleep?
These are some of the questions the Sleep Research Group is investigating using PET scans, fMRI, MRI, EEG, TMS and combinations of these techniques. Moreover, we have 8 isolated sleep rooms nearby these apparatus to conduct controlled sleep and chronobiology protocols.
Over the years, the main research theme have been focused on
- the role of sleep in memory consolidations: sleep vs. sleep deprivation protocols following procedural implicit and explicit learning and declarative memory encoding.
- the physiology of sleep: assessing the differences in brain activity in different brain states (wake; REM, non-REM sleep) using FDG and 02 PET scanning; investigation of the brain activity associated with sleep slow waves and spindles in fMRI.
- the impact of light on non-visual cognitive brain activity: brain mechanisms associated with the activating impact of light on non-visual cognitive brain function using fMRI.
- circadian rhythmicity in cognition and its interaction with sleep need: changes in brain activity associated with time of day, sleep pressure and circadian timing; repeated fMRI or TMS-EEG assessment of brain activity during normal waking and sleep loss.
- the genetics of sleep/wake regulation: research in individuals stratified according to known polymorphism affecting sleep/wake regulation such as PERIOD3 or BDNF.
- age related changes in sleep-wake regulation: changes in the impact of light on cognition in aging; changes in the impact of the interaction between sleep pressure and the circadian clock on cognitive brain activity.
- brain substrates of insomnia: structural and functional neuroimaging investigation in insomnia patients.