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Lack of sleep during adolescence skews brain wiring

Washington: Lack of sleep during adolescence could skew the brain`s wiring and makes it malfunction, neuroscientists say.

Researchers have found that short-term sleep restriction in adolescent mice prevented the balanced growth of brain synapses, which connect nerve cells for communication.

"If you lose too much sleep during adolescence, especially chronically, there may be lasting consequences in terms of the wiring of the brain," says Chiara Cirelli, associate professor of psychiatry, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison, the journal Nature Neuroscience reports.

"Adolescence is a sensitive period of development during which the brain changes dramatically. There is a massive remodelling of nerve circuits, with many new synapses formed and then eliminated," Cirelli says, according to a Wisconsin statement.

Cirelli and colleagues wanted to see how alterations to the sleep-wake cycle affected the anatomy of the developing adolescent brain. Live images showed that being asleep or awake made a difference in the dynamic adolescent mouse brain.

The overall density of dendritic spines -- elongated structures that contain synapses and permit brain cells to chat with one another -- fell during sleep and rose during spontaneous or forced wakefulness.

"These results using acute manipulations of just eight to 10 hours show that the time spent asleep or awake affects how many synapses are being formed or removed in the adolescent brain," Cirelli says.

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