First off, I apologize for my lack of posting over the past week. I have about 3 weeks to accomplish 6 weeks of work before I make the journey to Atlanta to begin my post-doc. To unwind in the meantime, I’ve been hooked to a two-time Emmy winning show on AMC: Breaking Bad. It would appeal to any science nerd, physical or social, given the focus on drug addiction, drug dealing, and basic drug chemistry
Of the time I have spent this past week reading scholarly articles, Giulio Tononi, an esteeming sleep researcher at University of Wisconsin-Madison, has made several appearances in the science literature. A few weeks ago, Tononi and colleagues published an interesting article in Nature that highlighted the deleterious effects of sleep deprivation on basic neuron physiology; in agreement with hypotheses of sleep homeostasis, it now appears that even neurons will go offline in an alternating fashion during the waking period in order to combat sleep deprivation.
A few days later, while reading in a doctor’s waiting room, I came across an article co-authored by Tononi and Christof Koch, a world-renowned expert in consciousness research, on this exact subject.
Sleeping and consciousness are intimately linked, though originally thought to be mutually exclusive. Despite the feeling of being “unconsciousness” during slow wave sleep (and a mis-reported phenomenon experienced during REM sleep per Freud) , the vivid imagery and emotional valence experienced during and later recalled after episodes of REM are very much components of consciousness. I anticipate much progress in this neonatal area of neuroscience research over the next few years. I was also surprised to learn through my readings that Francis Crick has also transitioned his own research to consciousness.