Increasing the amount of time sleeping has been shown to temporarily cure learning defects, in flies at least. An international study on sleep and learning, carried out on the common fruit fly, suggests a good night’s sleep might be vital for retaining the capacity to remember. This could have implications for the treatment of human disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease where many patients report having sleep problems.
In the study, different genetic or pharmaceutical methods were used to induce the flies’ sleep, to prove it was sleep that cured the flies rather than any specific drug or genetic pathway. It is understood that humans and flies share most genes that are important for memory that is prompting researchers to conclude that their work could lead to discoveries about improving memory in humans.
The research was led by Washington University and also involved the University of Queensland Brain Institute and the universities of Oxford and Surrey.