Amy’s last post sparked my interest in the complex relationship between neurogenesis and various behaviors. The idea that it is better to go to the gym rather than take a nap to benefit memory was interesting to me since I am looking into how sleep interacts with memory for my chapter. I started to wonder if neurogenesis is linked to sleep. After a little research, I found that sleep deprivation most commonly results in a suppression of hippocampal neurogenesis. However, it is hard to tease apart the causality in this relationship since stress is inflicted with any sleep deprivation method. As Sapolsky mentions this week, stress in and of itself decreases neurogenesis. However, one study I came across provided a different perspective. One night of sleep deprivation can improve the mood of some depressive patients. Is it possible that this improvement in mood is due to an increase in hippocampal neurogenesis? Possibly. One group of researchers found that one night of sleep deprivation in rats selectively improved neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Now that’s interesting. Is it really possible that pulling an all-nighter once in a while may actually increase our neurogenesis activity? It did say that the rats were gently handled in order to keep them awake for their typical sleep cycle. Is it possible that the extra exercise they received by being handled all night was enough to overcome the negative effects of stress/sleep deprivation and create a net increase of neurogenesis? Sleep, exercise, memory, stress, depression, it all comes together. Oh my.
Negative effects of sleep and neurogenesis can be found here.
Positive effects of pulling an all-nighter is here.