Can Science Eliminate the Need to Sleep?
If there were a widespread disease that similarly deprived people of a third of their conscious lives, the search for a cure would be lavishly funded. Sleep researchers may be closing in.
What's the Latest Development?
Entrepreneurs and university scientists alike are working hard to shorten the amount of time we spend sleeping each day while maintaining essential skills like learning, concentrating and being emotionally sensitive to our environment. Stimulants ranging from caffeine to the Air Force's "go-pills", while effective, have clear limitations. Instead, augmenting the body's ability to recharge itself through sleep is where the bulk of research is currently concentrating. Scientists at Duke University, for example, have used transcranial magnetic stimulation to induce slow-wave oscillations, the once-per-second ripples of brain activity that we see in deep sleep.
What's the Big Idea?
While medical solutions for making the process of sleeping more efficient may be within our grasp, cultural practices may act as a counter current. Questions will be posed over what is "optimal" or "natural" and will require a large consensus to answer effectively. "The war against sleep is inextricably linked with debates over human enhancement, because an eight-hour consolidated sleep is the ultimate cognitive enhancer. Sleepiness and a lack of mental focus are indistinguishable, and many of the pharmaceutically based cognitive enhancers on the market work to combat both."
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It's a development that could one day lead to much better treatments for osteoporosis, joint damage, and bone fractures.
- Scientists have isolated skeletal stem cells in adult and fetal bones for the first time.
- These cells could one day help treat damaged bone and cartilage.
- The team was able to grow skeletal stem cells from cells found within liposuctioned fat.
Gut bacteria play an important role in how you feel and think and how well your body fights off disease. New research shows that exercise can give your gut bacteria a boost.
- Two studies from the University of Illinois show that gut bacteria can be changed by exercise alone.
- Our understanding of how gut bacteria impacts our overall health is an emerging field, and this research sheds light on the many different ways exercise affects your body.
- Exercising to improve your gut bacteria will prevent diseases and encourage brain health.
A groundbreaking new study shows that octopuses seemed to exhibit uncharacteristically social behavior when given MDMA, the psychedelic drug commonly known as ecstasy.
- Octopuses, like humans, have genes that seem to code for serotonin transporters.
- Scientists gave MDMA to octopuses to see whether those genes translated into a binding site for serotonin, which regulates emotions and behavior in humans
- Octopuses, which are typically asocial creatures, seem to get friendlier while on MDMA, suggesting humans have more in common with the strange invertebrates than previously thought
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