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Avian Models of Sustained Wakefulness

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Final progress rept. 15 Mar 2002-31 Mar 2004

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We collected migratory white-crowned sparrows and demonstrated for the first time in the laboratory setting that during migration, birds maintain a high level of performance as demonstrated by normal to increased levels of responding on operant tasks, whereas sleep-deprived birds show decreased responding. We have completed the first continuous EEG recordings in a set of 8 birds during migration and have found that they reduce their total daily sleep by as much as 90 for periods of days to weeks at a time during migration these data establish the migratory bird as the only known natural model that meets the goals of the Continuous Assisted Performance initiative. In addition, we have developed the technical capability to perform prolonged sleep deprivations and record and analyze bird sleep in an automated fashion. We have successfully performed the first prolonged sleep deprivations in birds and demonstrated that they show effects similar to those seen in sleep deprived mammals, further validating the bird as a model with relevance to humans. Finally, we have identified a small number of genes that appear to be specific for migratory sleeplessness, providing a group of potential targets for drug development.

Subject Categories:

  • Biology
  • Stress Physiology
  • Pharmacology

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