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Mouse mystery

Author: admin

Ageing affects sleep—we know that. And now, a study on mice may help us determine why. Researchers at the University of Kent have discovered that the region in the brain that directs the circadian clock can go awry in elderly mice. As theatlantic.com reports, when the researchers put young and old mice through a battery of tests to compare their responses to jetlag, they found that elderly mice are far less flexible than young mice owing to a particular deficit in the brain.

For their study, the team kept both young and old mice in the dark for 10 days while keeping track of their active time. Upon exposing mice to 15 minutes of light and resetting their clocks ahead to induce the effect of jetlag, they observed that young mice were quite responsive and adjusted to period activity later by an hour but the older mice took longer. The researchers also checked for cataracts or eye defects among the older mice to eliminate an alternative explanation for why the light wasn’t getting through—only to discover that the problem was with the neurotransmitter that delivers it. On further investigation, they discovered that elder mice are far less flexible to light owing to a missing piece in the receptor in the brain that triggers events influencing the body clock. The study, which is expected to provide valuable clues to the human experience of fragmented sleep with age, was published in journal Neurobiology of Aging.

Photo: iStock
Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
August 2018