Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sleep-deprived bees have difficulty relearning

Date:
October 25, 2012
Source:
The Journal of Experimental Biology
Summary:
Everyone needs sleep and sleep is key to memory formation, so how does sleep help us to alter preformed memories? Answering this question is impossible in humans, but when researchers in Germany tested the effect of sleep deprivation on bee brains, they discovered that the insects could not modify their memories. So bee brains could teach us how we modify well-established memories.

When researchers in Germany tested the effect of sleep deprivation on bee brains, they discovered that the insects could not modify their memories.
Credit: © Viktor / Fotolia

Everyone feels refreshed after a good night's sleep, but sleep does more than just rejuvenate, it can also consolidate memories.

Related Articles


"The rapid eye movement form of sleep and slow wave sleep are involved in cognitive forms of memory such as learning motor skills and consciously accessible memory," explains Randolf Menzel from the Freie Universtδt Berlin, Germany.

According to Menzel, the concept that something during sleep reactivates a memory for consolidation is a basic theory in sleep research. However, the human brain is far too complex to begin dissecting the intricate neurocircuits that underpin our memories, which is why Menzel has spent the last four decades working with honey bees: they are easy to train, well motivated and it is possible to identify the miniaturised circuits that control specific behaviours in their tiny brains. Intrigued by the role of sleep in memory consolidation and knowing that a bee is sleeping well when its antennae are relaxed and collapsed down, Menzel decided to focus on the role of sleep in one key memory characteristic: relearning.

They publish their discovery that sleep derivation prevents bees from altering well-established memories in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

The challenge that Menzel set the bees was to learn a new route home after being displaced from a familiar path. He and his colleague Lisa Beyaert provided a hive with a well-stocked feeder and trained the bees to visit the feeder and return home fully laden. Then, when the duo were convinced that the bees had memorized the routine, they cunningly intercepted the bees at the feeder and transported them to a new location before releasing the insects to find their way home. According to Menzel, foragers learn the general lay of the land as novices before specialising in a few well-travelled routes later in their careers. He explains that the displaced bees had to rely on their earlier experiences to learn their new way home. How would loss of sleep affect the bee's ability to learn the new route? To determine this, Menzel and Beyeart first had to check that the bees could learn the new route and that sleep deprivation hadn't made them too tired or altered their motivation to forage.

Teaming up with electrical engineer Uwe Greggers, Menzel kitted the bees out with tiny RADAR transponders; the RADAR technology was particularly demanding to operate. Tracking the insects' progress as they tried to learn the alternative route home, Menzel and his colleagues saw that by the second run home, the displaced bees had learned the new route. And when the trio disturbed the insects' sleep during the night before the initial displacement by shaking them awake every 5 minutes, they found that the bees were unfazed. In fact they didn't seem to need sleep to maintain their foraging energy levels and the foragers that were deprived of sleep before the first displacement run had no problems learning the new route home.

However, when the team disrupted the bees' sleep after they had allowed the bees a single run along the new displaced route, the lack of sleep played havoc with their memories on the following day. Fewer than half of the sleep-deprived foragers made it home successfully, and those that did took more than twice as long as bees that had enjoyed an uninterrupted night's sleep.

Sleep deprivation had dramatically affected the bees' ability to alter a well-established memory and the team is now keen to see whether they can identify characteristic activity patterns in the slumbering insects' brains that could represent memory formation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by The Journal of Experimental Biology. The original article was written by Kathryn Knight. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. L. Beyaert, U. Greggers, R. Menzel. Honeybees consolidate navigation memory during sleep. Journal of Experimental Biology, 2012; 215 (22): 3981 DOI: 10.1242/jeb.075499

Cite This Page:

The Journal of Experimental Biology. "Sleep-deprived bees have difficulty relearning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095531.htm>.
The Journal of Experimental Biology. (2012, October 25). Sleep-deprived bees have difficulty relearning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 1, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095531.htm
The Journal of Experimental Biology. "Sleep-deprived bees have difficulty relearning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121025095531.htm (accessed March 1, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

The Best Foods to Battle Stress

Buzz60 (Feb. 26, 2015) — If you&apos;re dealing with anxiety, there are a few foods that can help. Krystin Goodwin (@krystingoodwin) has the best foods to tame stress. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Sleeping Too Much Or Too Little Might Increase Stroke Risk

Newsy (Feb. 26, 2015) — People who sleep more than eight hours per night are 45 percent more likely to have a stroke, according to a University of Cambridge study. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Mayor Says District of Columbia to Go Ahead With Pot Legalization

Reuters - News Video Online (Feb. 25, 2015) — Washington&apos;s mayor says the District of Columbia will move forward with marijuana legalization, despite pushback from Congress. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Marijuana Nowhere Near As Deadly As Alcohol: Study

Newsy (Feb. 25, 2015) — A new study says marijuana is about 114 times less deadly than alcohol. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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