Surgery News

New sleep lab to benefit shift-workers

November 29, 2015

Sydney University's new Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) will draw together world leaders in clinical psychiatry, neuroscience, and neurology to investigate the impact of sleep disturbance in degenerative medical disorders.

Of particular interest to the investigators will be the connection between sleep disturbance and neurodegenerative disorders such and Alzheimer's and dementia. The group will also be looking at primary insomnia and major depression as well as vascular risk factors, with a special focus on the young and the elderly.

"One of the areas that we are particularly interested in is the connection between disruption of normal sleep patterns and its impact on bipolar disorder in relation to progression and treatment of the disorder," said Associate Professor Naomi Rogers.

A key feature of the new facility is the 'napping pod' which will be used for productivity related studies and research into the impact of caffeine intake and brief napping.

The Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory consists of four separate bedrooms and a performance testing room, as well as driving simulators and a range of equipment for physiological monitoring and assessment of subjects.

Also opening at the BMRI tomorrow is the new Brain and Mind Research Institute Neurophysiology Laboratory, where researchers will undertake a series of studies using non-invasive specialist equipment to help distinguish mental health problems, with a focus on the early stages of symptoms.

Researchers using the new laboratory will be focussing on brain activity associated with brain arousal and cognition, particularly in young patients.

"By combining the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potential (ERP) markers, the new laboratory will increase our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mental health problems including schizophrenia, substance misuse and depression," said Dr Daniel Hermens.

This drug, suggests Alkon, offers potential to prevent and/or reverse brain degeneration not just in stroke victims, but also Alzheimer's disease and traumatic brain injury.

Previous studies had also shown Bryostatin's ability to accelerate the generation of new connections in the brain when paired with learning exercises. According to Alkon, this could eventually lead to new treatment therapies for children with compromised memory activity. BRNI is in discussion with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin clinical trials of the drug.

About BRNI

BRNI is the world's only non-profit institute dedicated to the study of both human memory and diseases of memory. Its primary mission is to accelerate the transfer of neurological discoveries from the lab to the doctor's office where it can benefit patients who suffer from neurological and psychiatric diseases.

BRNI is operated in alliance with West Virginia University in Morgantown as well as in collaboration with other academic institutions such as Johns Hopkins University. West Virginia Senator Jay Rockefeller founded the Institute in memory of his mother, Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, who died of Alzheimer's disease.