Breaking News
March 24, 2018 - New findings highlight need to reconsider cervical cancer screening guidelines
March 24, 2018 - Smartwatch App Might Help Detect A-Fib
March 24, 2018 - TAVR Reasonable for Low-Flow, Low-Gradient Aortic Stenosis
March 24, 2018 - Kids with severe brain injuries may develop ADHD: study
March 24, 2018 - Researchers explore ways to help older adults taper off and stop using sedatives
March 24, 2018 - Back pain being mismanaged globally
March 24, 2018 - Fingerprint test accurately and noninvasively detects heroin, cocaine users
March 24, 2018 - Leading experts to promote cardiovascular health at EuroPrevent 2018
March 24, 2018 - A Role for Rituximab in Lupus?
March 24, 2018 - New osteoarthritis genes discovered
March 24, 2018 - Maternal intake of DHA supplement linked to higher fat-free body mass in children
March 24, 2018 - Royal College of Pathologists‘ bulletin provides summary of Tissue Handling Workshop
March 24, 2018 - Maternal alcohol use early in pregnancy may be risk factor for infant abdominal malformation
March 24, 2018 - Savara Initiates Phase 2a Clinical Study of Molgradex for the Treatment of NTM Lung Infection
March 24, 2018 - Accelerated WBI Should be the Norm for Most Breast Cancers
March 24, 2018 - Experts seek to standardize treatments for childhood rheumatic diseases
March 24, 2018 - Foil-based measuring chip rapidly detects Legionella
March 24, 2018 - Bariatric surgery linked to positive outcomes in very obese adolescents with type 2 diabetes
March 24, 2018 - Are there risks from secondhand marijuana smoke? Early science says yes.
March 24, 2018 - New University of Bath project seeks to make injections safer
March 24, 2018 - Higher-dose RT does not improve survival but reduces recurrence risk for prostate cancer patients
March 24, 2018 - Researchers examine link between knee pain and depression in older adults
March 24, 2018 - FDA Alert: BD Vacutainer Blood Collection Tubes by Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD): Class I Recall
March 24, 2018 - Daytime Sleepiness Linked to Amyloid Accumulation Without Dementia
March 24, 2018 - Energy storehouses in the brain may be source of Alzheimer’s, targets of new therapy
March 24, 2018 - Praising people with autism shows promise for producing more exercise
March 24, 2018 - Using harmless red or infrared light to diagnose breast cancer
March 24, 2018 - Clash over abortion hobbles a health bill. Again. Here’s how.
March 23, 2018 - Virtual nature environment could be new way to recover from stress
March 23, 2018 - New study identifies key cellular mechanisms behind vascular aging in mice
March 23, 2018 - Nightmares Common Among U.S. Troops, But Seldom Reported
March 23, 2018 - Another Record Low for Tuberculosis in U.S.
March 23, 2018 - Changes in the eye connected to a decline in memory
March 23, 2018 - Radiologist creates dramatic teaching tool using power of VR
March 23, 2018 - Grilled meat could be raising the risk of hypertension finds study
March 23, 2018 - Mutations found in bassoon gene may help explain cause of rare brain disorder
March 23, 2018 - Childhood Brain Injuries May be Linked to ADHD Years Later
March 23, 2018 - Why treating addiction with medication should be carefully considered
March 23, 2018 - Researchers make key discovery about cellular pathway linked to myriad of diseases
March 23, 2018 - Researchers uncover cause of rare childhood neurodegenerative disease
March 23, 2018 - Measles infection in early childhood could contribute to later COPD
March 23, 2018 - Opioid painkiller is top prescription in 11 states
March 23, 2018 - Sienna Biopharmaceuticals Announces First Patient Dosed In Proof-of-Concept Trial of Topical By Design™ JAK Inhibitor SNA-125 for Atopic Dermatitis
March 23, 2018 - In Teen Girls, Neural Patterns May Drive Emotional Resilience
March 23, 2018 - Gene-based test for urine detects, monitors bladder cancer
March 23, 2018 - BD to introduce new digital solution for IV chemotherapy administration process at EAHP 2018
March 23, 2018 - New computational method helps to identify tumor cell mutations with greater accuracy
March 23, 2018 - Researchers identify potential obesity treatment in freezing hunger-signaling nerve
March 23, 2018 - Wales participates in the 100,000 Genomes Project
March 23, 2018 - 24-Hr Paging Cuts ED Visits for Kids with Endocrine Issues
March 23, 2018 - The brain learns completely differently than we’ve assumed since the 20th century
March 23, 2018 - Less nutritious diet mainly contributes to Type 2 diabetes among U.S.-based South Asians
March 23, 2018 - Stony Brook Medicine expert provides tips for healthy diet to decrease cancer risk
March 23, 2018 - New findings could have revolutionary impact on quality of life of older people
March 23, 2018 - Restoring enzyme may help reverse effects of vascular aging, study shows
March 23, 2018 - Protein profiling reveals new prostate cancer mechanisms
March 23, 2018 - Depression may be linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation
March 23, 2018 - FDA Takes Aim at Flavored Tobacco
March 23, 2018 - SMART Strategy Lowers Asthma Exacerbation Risk
March 23, 2018 - Cold open water plunge provides instant pain relief
March 23, 2018 - Portable and wearable technology supports future of military medical devices
March 23, 2018 - Patients with vascular malformations have poor health-related quality of life
March 23, 2018 - Researchers develop unique technology to overcome global antibiotic resistance crisis
March 23, 2018 - New DOD grant to support testing of promising therapy for triple-negative breast cancer
March 23, 2018 - Novel vaccine technologies can help better prepare for future infectious disease threats
March 23, 2018 - OncoBreak: Colonoscopy TV; Coverage for Genomic Testing; Care for Caregivers
March 23, 2018 - For some surgeries, nerve blocks mean better outcomes, fewer opioids
March 23, 2018 - Maternal obesity and androgen excess induce sex-specific anxiety in offspring, study suggests
March 23, 2018 - The tale of Theranos and the mysterious fire alarm
March 23, 2018 - USC researchers create algorithm to optimize substance abuse intervention groups
March 23, 2018 - Impulsivity may be associated with greater weight loss during treatment in obese children
March 23, 2018 - CTI BioPharma Announces Publication of Pacritinib Phase 3 PERSIST-2 Clinical Trial in JAMA Oncology
March 23, 2018 - Senate Panel Addresses Native Americans’ Opioid Troubles
March 23, 2018 - Brain connections in schizophrenia
March 23, 2018 - Mental health assessment in health checks can help detect psychologically vulnerable people
March 23, 2018 - New test for urothelial cancers offers less invasive, more accurate detection
March 23, 2018 - Groundbreaking 100,000 Genomes Project achieves important milestone to transform NHS care
March 23, 2018 - Mice getting a new lease of life with anti-aging pills
March 23, 2018 - Obesity kills taste buds and dulls taste sensation finds study
March 23, 2018 - Medical students get less formal education in radiation oncology, study finds
Researchers discover gene that influences how sleep-deprived people perform mental tasks

Researchers discover gene that influences how sleep-deprived people perform mental tasks

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print

Washington State University researchers have discovered a genetic variation that predicts how well people perform certain mental tasks when they are sleep deprived.

Their research shows that individuals with a particular variation of the DRD2 gene are resilient to the effects of sleep deprivation when completing tasks that require cognitive flexibility, the ability to make appropriate decisions based on changing information.

Sleep-deprived people with two other variations of the gene tend to perform much more poorly on the same kinds of tasks, the researchers found.

The DRD2 dopamine receptor gene influences the processing of information in the striatum, a region of the brain that is known to be involved in cognitive flexibility.

“Our work shows that there are people who are resilient to the effects of sleep deprivation when it comes to cognitive flexibility. Surprisingly these same people are just as affected as everyone else on other tasks that require different cognitive abilities, such as maintaining focus,” said Paul Whitney, a WSU professor of psychology and lead author of the study, which appeared in the journal Scientific Reports. “This confirms something we have long suspected, namely that the effects of sleep deprivation are not general in nature, but rather depend on the specific task and the genes of the person performing the task.”

Why sleep loss affects us differently

When deprived of sleep, some people respond better than others. Scientists have identified genes associated with this, but they have wondered why the effects of sleep loss tend to vary widely across both individuals and cognitive tasks. For example, after a day without sleep, some people might struggle with a reaction time test but perform well on decision-making tasks, or vice versa.

In the current study, Whitney, along with colleagues John Hinson, WSU professor of psychology, and Hans Van Dongen, director of the WSU Sleep and Performance Research Center at WSU Spokane, compared how people with different variations of the DRD2 gene performed on tasks designed to test both their ability to anticipate events and their cognitive flexibility in response to changing circumstances.

Forty-nine adults participated in the study at the WSU Spokane sleep laboratory. After a 10-hour rest period, 34 participants were randomly selected to go 38 hours without sleep while the other participants were allowed to sleep normally.

Before and after the period of sleep deprivation, subjects were shown a series of letter pairings on a computer screen and told to click the left mouse button for a certain letter combination (e.g., an A followed by an X) and the right mouse button for all other letter pairs. After a while, both the sleep-deprived group and the rested group were able to identify the pattern and click correctly for various letter pairs.

Then came the tricky part: in the middle of the task, researchers told the participants to now click the left mouse button for a different letter combination. The sudden switch confounded most of the sleep-deprived participants, but those who had a particular variation of the DRD2 gene handled the switch as well as they did when well-rested.

“Our research shows this particular gene influences a person’s ability to mentally change direction when given new information,” Van Dongen said. “Some people are protected from the effects of sleep deprivation by this particular gene variation but, for most of us, sleep loss does something to the brain that simply prevents us from switching gears when circumstances change.”

Training to cope with sleep loss

Sleep deprivation’s effect on cognitive flexibility can have serious consequences, especially in high stakes, real-world situations like an emergency room or military operations where the ability to respond to changing circumstances is critical. For example, after a night without sleep, a surgeon might notice a spike in a patient’s vital signs midway through a procedure but be unable to use this information to decide on a better course of action.

The WSU research team is currently applying what they learned from their study to develop new ways to help surgeons, police officers, soldiers and other individuals who regularly deal with the effects of sleep deprivation in critical, dynamic settings cope with the loss of cognitive flexibility.

“Our long-term goal is to be able to train people so that no matter what their genetic composition is, they will be able to recognize and respond appropriately to changing scenarios, and be less vulnerable to sleep loss.” Whitney said. “Of course, the more obvious solution is to just get some sleep, but in a lot of real-world situations, we don’t have that luxury.”


WSU researchers see gene influencing performance of sleep-deprived people

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles