With a $1 million grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, neuroscience researchers at Washington State University and the University of Massachusetts Amherst will explore whether variations in brain levels of bacterial fragments can account for life's sleep/wake and 24-hour cycles, known as circadian rhythms.
The bacteria residing inside of you outnumber your own cells 10 to one and affect sleep, cognition, mood, brain temperature, appetite and many additional brain functions. Yet we lack an understanding of how they do it." James Krueger, Regents Professor of Integrative Physiology and Neuroscience at the WSU College of Veterinary Medicine
The sleep research is led by Krueger, and the circadian rhythm portion of the project is led by co-investigator Ilia Karatsoreos, who recently joined UMass Amherst from WSU as an associate professor of psychological and brain sciences.
At Karatsoreos' Lab, researchers will use models of simulated jet lag, a way to disrupt our circadian (daily) rhythms. As anyone who has flown cross-country has likely experienced firsthand, disrupting these rhythms is associated with changes in sleep, cognition and even body temperature.
"When jetlagged, many of the normal bodily functions are out of synchrony with each other. This is a consequence of altering circadian rhythms," Karatsoreos says. "By looking for changes of bacterial products in the brain, we anticipate we will discover new approaches to treat jet lag, and possibly the desynchrony of physiological functions that occurs with old age." Related Stories
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