Biologists from Japan and the USA have studied the work of neurons that are active during the REM phase when we are dreaming.
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Apparently, this is an active process associated with pruning – a reduction in the number of synapses (contacts between neurons), which occurs primarily in the hippocampus. The authors of the study were the first to demonstrate this mechanism.
Biologists studied the hormones of the hypothalamus, which regulates sleep and wakefulness cycles, and drew attention to cells that produce melanin, which concentrates the hormone.
Unnecessary memories are erased during sleep
More than half (53%) of these cells are active during the REM phase, and only a third (35%) show activity during wakefulness. About 12% of the cells remained active at any time.
Scientists selectively included and suppressed the activity of such neurons in mice. Rodents were introduced to new objects, after which they influenced certain neurons. As the researchers suggested, cell activation impaired the ability of animals to remember new experiences. This effect was observed only during the REM sleep phase.
Conclusion: during sleep, cells are activated in humans that help the brain erase unnecessary information. If they are active, then the brain remembers them much worse.
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