Medindia

X

Sleep Strengthens Connections in the Brains of Young Children

by Kathy Jones on  November 21, 2013 at 7:57 PM Research News   - G J E 4
A new study by the University of Colorado Boulder finds that connections between the left and the right hemispheres of children's brain strengthen while they sleep.
 Sleep Strengthens Connections in the Brains of Young Children
Sleep Strengthens Connections in the Brains of Young Children
Advertisement

The research team—led by Salome Kurth, a postdoctoral researcher, and Monique LeBourgeois, assistant professor in integrative physiology—used electroencephalograms, or EEGs, to measure the brain activity of eight sleeping children multiple times at the ages of 2, 3 and 5 years.

Advertisement
"Interestingly, during a night of sleep, connections weakened within hemispheres but strengthened between hemispheres," Kurth said.

Scientists have known that the brain changes drastically during early childhood: New connections are formed, others are removed and a fatty layer called "myelin" forms around nerve fibers in the brain. The growth of myelin strengthens the connections by speeding up the transfer of information.

Maturation of nerve fibers leads to improvement in skills such as language, attention and impulse control. But it is still not clear what role sleep plays in the development of such brain connections.

In the new study, appearing online in the journal Brain Sciences, the researchers looked at differences in brain activity during sleep as the children got older and differences in brain activity of each child over a night's sleep. They found that connections in the brain generally became stronger during sleep as the children aged. They also found that the strength of the connections between the left and right hemispheres increased by as much as 20 percent over a night's sleep.

"There are strong indications that sleep and brain maturation are closely related, but at this time, it is not known how sleep leads to changes in brain structure," Kurth said.

Future studies will be aimed at determining how sleep disruption during childhood may affect brain development and behavior.

"I believe inadequate sleep in childhood may affect the maturation of the brain related to the emergence of developmental or mood disorders," Kurth said.



Source: Eurekalert
Advertisement

Post your Comments

Comments should be on the topic and should not be abusive. The editorial team reserves the right to review and moderate the comments posted on the site.
User Avatar
* Your comment can be maximum of 2500 characters
Notify me when reply is posted I agree to the terms and conditions

You May Also Like

Advertisement
View All