Self knew it all along, dear blog readers: she knew she wasn’t the only one in the world with such severe insomnia that she can go to sleep at 3 AM and be up two hours later. Now, while browsing Stanford website (as she does about once a day), she stumbles upon this article from the Stanford Medical Center, posted 17 October. And, since self finds it so exceedingly entertaining, she has decided to share it with dear blog readers.
Article was written by one Brian Lee. Thank you, Brian, for providing self with the answers to such questions as: a) How do we know whether a fish floating motionless in a tank of water is really asleep? and b) Why are zebra fish better subjects for scientific study than dogs or mice?
Researchers in the School of Medicine have hooked a fish that suffers from insomnia in their quest to understand the genetics behind sleep disorders.
The findings, published in the Oct. 16 issue of the journal Public Library of Science-Biology, show that even zebrafish—a common aquarium pet—can have a genetic mutation linked to sleep problems. The work represents a milestone in sleep research by Emmanuel Mignot, MD, PhD, who also uncovered the genetic cause of narcolepsy in dogs.
Since most fish lack eyelids, many people have wondered whether fish can even nod off. The paper from Mignot’s team provides proof that they do, and that zebrafish are a powerful new animal model for studying sleep disorders.Zebrafish are all the rage among developmental biologists because compared with mice they are inexpensive to breed. And unlike cheaper fruit fly and worm models, fish have a backbone—thereby better representing the human nervous system. And their babies reveal many details because they are see-through.
Self suspects that there is one glaring typo in above article, and that is in paragraph 4, the sentence: And their babies reveal many details . . . Shouldn’t the word be bodies rather than babies, dear blog reader???
“The fact that zebrafish larvae are transparent means you can look directly at their neuronal network, even in living fish,” said Mignot, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.
Mignot’s laboratory found the gene responsible for narcolepsy in Dobermans and Labradors in 1999, helping reveal how the disorder occurs in humans.