Grants awarded

Influence of sleep on human brain structure

Grantholder:

Dr Chen Song

Cardiff University

United Kingdom

We spend one third of our lives asleep, during which time the brain is disconnected from the environment. Sleeping increases our vulnerability and prevents us engaging in more productive behaviour which suggests that it must have an important function. While we are asleep, our brains disconnect from the environment enabling different brain regions to show independent, decoupled activities. I hypothesise that the inter-regional decoupling that occurs during sleep facilitates the remodelling and optimisation of structural networks in the brain, leading to improved functioning and cognition.

I will use magnetic resonance imaging of the brain and closed-loop stimulation to explore how brain activity during sleep induces beneficial changes in the structure of brain connections and the function of brain communications that underlie the cognitive benefits of sleep.

My findings will shed light on how sleep benefits the brain.