It is common knowledge that pulling an all-nighter results in cognitive impairments.
Now, researchers at Penn have identified the part of the brain and the neurochemical basis for sleep deprivation's effects on memory.
Lead author Ted Abel and colleagues aimed to better understand the role of the nucleoside adenosine in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with memory function.
"For a long time, researchers have known that sleep deprivation results in increased levels of adenosine in the brain, and has this effect from fruit flies to mice to humans." Abel said.
"There is accumulating evidence that this adenosine is really the source of a number of the deficits and impact of sleep deprivation, including memory loss and attention deficits.
"One thing that underscores that evidence is that caffeine is a drug that blocks the effects of adenosine, so we sometimes refer to this as 'the Starbucks experiment'," he added.
The research is detailed in The Journal of Neuroscience.