Washington: Biologists at New York University have sheds new light on sleep-wake cycles by uncovering one way that biological clocks control neuronal activity.The finding offers potential new directions for research into therapies to address sleep disorders and jet lag.“The findings answer a significant question — how biological clocks drive the activity of clock neurons, which, in turn, regulate behavioral rhythms,” explained Justin Blau, an associate professor in NYU’s Department of Biology and the study’s senior author.Scientists have known that our biological clocks control neuronal activity. But not previously understood is how this process occurs — that is, how does information from biological clocks drive rhythms in the electrical activity of pacemaker neurons that, in turn, drives daily rhythms?To understand this mechanism, the researchers examined the biological, or circadian, clocks of Drosophila fruit flies, which are commonly used for research in this area. Earlier studies of “clock genes” in fruit flies allowed the identification of similarly functioning genes in humans.
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