Italian scientists uncover 'sleep switch' in brain

'Neuronal subgroup in cortex where brainwaves slowed'

Italian scientists uncover 'sleep switch' in brain

Genoa, January 22 - Scientists in Italy have made a breakthrough in understanding how the brain regulates sleep, possibly clearing the way for new treatments of sleep disorders. Researchers at the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT) have located the "switch" used to slow brainwaves produced during sleep, according to a report published in the journal Nature Neuroscience. "This study represents, to the best of our knowledge, the first causal demonstration that excitatory circuits located in distinct cortical layers differentially control spontaneous low-frequency dynamics," it said. The so-called switch is in fact a neuronal subgroup located in the deep layers of the cortex, according to researchers led by Doctor Tommaso Fellin. The scientists say they have unlocked how it works, thus paving the way for future breakthroughs in treating sleep disorders and other related maladies.

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