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Lack Of Sleep Can Affect Learning

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          HEALTH TIPS - Tuesday, February 20, 2007
               "News That Keeps You Healthy"


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              Lack of sleep can affect learning

BOSTON, -- U.S. scientists have determined sleep depriva-
tion impairs memory for subsequent experiences by alter-
ing the function of the hippocampus. Sleep researchers 
have known sleep occurring after an experience can be 
critical to learning and memory but in the new study 
Matthew Walker and colleagues at Harvard University 
Medical School found sleep before an experience is also 
critical for the normal functioning of memory systems.
The scientists deprived people of a night's sleep and 
then asked them to observe and remember a large set of 
picture slides for a subsequent recognition test. Follow-
ing a full night's sleep, the subjects were queried about 
the slides. The researchers found sleep-deprived subjects 
showed decreased activity in the hippocampus -- a brain 
region important for memory -- relative to control sub-
jects who were not sleep-deprived while viewing the pic-
tures; sleep-deprived people also had poorer subsequent 
recall abilities. The relationship of activation in other 
brain areas to activation in the hippocampus was also 
altered, suggesting sleep deprivation alters memory-encod-
ing strategies, the researchers reported. The study 
appears in the March issue of the journal Nature Neuro-
science.
  
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         Scientists find origin of ulcer bacteria

CAMBRIDGE, England, -- A British-led team of international 
scientists has discovered the bacteria causing stomach 
ulcers has been present in humans for more than 60,000 
years. The finding, say the researchers, not only furthers 
the understanding of a disease causing bacteria but also
offers a new way to study the migration and diversifica-
tion of early humans. The scientists from the University 
of Cambridge, the Max Planck Institute in Berlin and the 
Hanover Medical School, compared DNA sequence patterns of 
humans and the Helicobacter pylori bacteria known to cause 
most stomach ulcers. They found the genetic differences 
between human populations that arose as they dispersed 
from Eastern Africa over thousands of years are mirrored 
in H. pylori. Human DNA analysis has shown that along the 
major land routes out of Africa human populations become 
genetically isolated -- the further from Eastern Africa a 
population is the more different genetically it is compar-
ed to other human populations. Other research has shown 
gradual differences in European populations, presumed to 
be the result of Neolithic farmers moving northwards. The 
H. pylori research team found nearly the same genetic dis-
tribution patterns in their results. The study appears 
in the journal Nature.

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       Children's asthma drug elicits good review

MELBOURNE, -- An Australian study shows children taking 
the prescription drug montelukast for reoccurring sporadic 
asthma miss fewer school days. The multicenter, randomized, 
double-blind and placebo-controlled study also showed such 
children had fewer unscheduled trips to their doctors and 
caused their parents to take fewer days off work for their 
care. Dr. Colin Robertson of the Royal Children's Hospital 
in Melbourne and colleagues studied 202 children, ages 2 
to 14, who were given either montelukast or a placebo by 
their parents. All of the children had intermittent, 
physician-diagnosed asthma. By the end of the yearlong 
study, the patients treated with montelukast had 163 un-
scheduled health resource visits for their illness, as 
compared with 228 in the placebo group. "Symptoms were 
reduced by 14 percent, nights awakened by 8.6 percent, 
days off from school or childcare by 37 percent and 
parent time off from work by 33 percent," said Robertson.
Asthma is the most common chronic disorder of childhood 
and intermittent asthma is the most common pattern of the 
disease in children. The study is detailed in the American 
Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

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