Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

One Sleepless Night Increases Dopamine In The Human Brain

Date:
August 21, 2008
Source:
Society for Neuroscience
Summary:
Just one night without sleep can increase the amount of the chemical dopamine in the human brain, according to new imaging research in the Journal of Neuroscience. Because drugs that increase dopamine, like amphetamines, promote wakefulness, the findings offer a potential mechanism explaining how the brain helps people stay awake despite the urge to sleep. However, the study also shows that the increase in dopamine cannot compensate for the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation.

Just one night without sleep can increase the amount of the chemical dopamine in the human brain, according to new imaging research in the August 20 issue of The Journal of Neuroscience. Because drugs that increase dopamine, like amphetamines, promote wakefulness, the findings offer a potential mechanism explaining how the brain helps people stay awake despite the urge to sleep.

However, the study also shows that the increase in dopamine cannot compensate for the cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation.

"This is the first time that a study provides evidence that in the human brain, dopamine is involved in the adaptations that result from sleep deprivation," said Nora Volkow, MD, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, who led the study.

Volkow and colleagues found that in healthy participants, sleep deprivation increased dopamine in two brain structures: the striatum, which is involved in motivation and reward, and the thalamus, which is involved in alertness. The researchers also found that the amount of dopamine in the brain correlated with feelings of fatigue and impaired performance on cognitive tasks.

"These findings suggest dopamine may increase after sleep deprivation as a compensatory response to the effects of increased sleep drive in the brain," said David Dinges, PhD, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, an expert unaffiliated with the study. "The extent to which this occurs may differentiate how vulnerable people are to the neurobehavioral effects of sleep loss," Dinges said.

The researchers studied 15 healthy participants who were either kept awake all night or allowed a good night's sleep. Researchers tested the same participants in both conditions. On the morning of the study, participants rated how tired they were and did cognitive tasks testing visual attention and working memory.

The researchers used the imaging technique positron emission tomography to study the changes in the dopamine system that occur with sleep deprivation. Compared to well-rested participants, sleep-deprived participants showed reduced binding of a radiolabeled compound ([11C]raclopride) that binds to dopamine receptors in the striatum and thalamus. Because raclopride competes with dopamine for the same receptors, decreased raclopride binding indicates increased levels of dopamine, according to the study authors.

Although decreases in raclopride binding could also indicate a reduction in the number of dopamine receptors, these findings are consistent with prior research implicating increased dopamine levels in wakefulness. For example, some stimulants that prevent sleep, like amphetamines, increase dopamine in the brain, and sleepiness is common in people with Parkinson's disease, which kills dopamine neurons.

The rise in dopamine following sleep deprivation may promote wakefulness to compensate for sleep loss. "However, the concurrent decline in cognitive performance, which is associated with the dopamine increases, suggests that the adaptation is not sufficient to overcome the cognitive deterioration induced by sleep deprivation and may even contribute to it," said study author Volkow.

Future research will examine the long-term effects of chronic sleep disturbances on dopamine brain circuits.

The study was supported by the National Institute of Health Intramural Research Program and the U.S. Department of Energy.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Society for Neuroscience. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Society for Neuroscience. "One Sleepless Night Increases Dopamine In The Human Brain." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819213033.htm>.
Society for Neuroscience. (2008, August 21). One Sleepless Night Increases Dopamine In The Human Brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819213033.htm
Society for Neuroscience. "One Sleepless Night Increases Dopamine In The Human Brain." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080819213033.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins