March 27, 2017

Do you know your brain connections shrink during sleep?

Do you know your brain connections shrink during sleep?

In your every waking moment, whether you mean to or not, you are absorbing new experiences, and changing your brain. Specifically, some of your neurons become more strongly connected. The sites where they meet, known as synapses, become larger and more numerous, and an electrical signal in one of the neurons more easily triggers a signal in another. This is how we learn and store memories, in the changing strengths of our synapses.

But there’s a limit to this process.

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It takes a lot of energy to maintain these connections, and since we only have so much energy to spare, we can’t keep strengthening our synapses indefinitely. Nor would we want to. If our synapses kept getting stronger, our neurons would eventually become twitchy and hyperactive, leading to seizures or epilepsy. “In theory, the system could get to total saturation—all synapses would be strong and couldn’t get any stronger, and you wouldn’t be able to encode any more information” says Richard Huganir from Johns Hopkins University. Read more 

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