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Sleep deprivation leads to schizophrenia symptoms

Did you know that it only takes 24 hours of sleep deprivation for a healthy brain to start simulating the effects of schizophrenia? 

According to Science Journal, researchers from the University of Bonn and King's College London have found that after 24 hours of sleep deprivation, healthy patients experience symptoms of psychosis and schizophrenia. 

“It was clear to us that a sleepless night leads to impairment in the ability to concentrate,” said Dr. Ulrich Ettinger of the cognitive psychology unit in the department of psychology at  London’s College, “but we were surprised at how pronounced and how wide the spectrum of schizophrenia-like symptoms was.” The research team examined a total of 24 healthy subjects of both genders aged 18 to 40.

During the initial run, the test subjects were able to sleep normally, but after one week they were kept awake all night with movies, conversation, games, and brief walks. The next morning, each subject was asked about their thoughts and feelings, in addition to undergoing a test known as prepulse inhibition. 

Prepulse inhibition is a standard test to measure the filtering function of the brain according to Dr. Nadine Petrovsky from Dr. Ettinger’s team.

In the experiment, the test subjects heard loud noises via headphones, to which they responded with a startled response that is recorded with electrodes through the contraction of facial muscles. If a weaker stimulus is emitted beforehand as a “prepulse,” the startle response is lower. 

In the subjects, this filtering function of the brain was significantly reduced following a sleepless night. “There were pronounced attention deficits, such as what typically occurs in the case of schizophrenia,” said Dr. Ettinger. “The unselected flood of information led to chaos in the brain.”

The scientists see an important potential application for their results in research for drugs to treat psychoses. “In drug development, mental disorders like these have been simulated to date in experiments using certain active substances. However, these convey the symptoms of psychoses in only a very limited manner,” said Dr. Ettinger.

World’s largest flying bird discovered

According to Science Daily, scientists have discovered and identified the fossilized remains of a giant, extinct bird that could have been the largest flying bird ever. 

The remains were found near Charleston, South Carolina in 1983 by construction workers who were beginning excavations for a new terminal at the Charleston International Airport. Lead researcher Dan Ksepka of the National Evolutionary Synthesis Centre has been gathering information on the bird species for more than 12 years. 

The bird’s tell-tale beak and upper wing bones allowed Ksepka to identify the remains as a pelagornithid, an extinct group of giant seabirds known for their bony tooth-like spikes that lined their upper and lower jaws. This species was named Pelagornis sandersi in honour of  retired Charleston Museum curator Albert Sanders, who led the excavation. 

It is estimated that the P. sandersi lived 25 to 28 million years ago, after the extinction of dinosaurs, but long before the first humans arrived to the area. Researchers established that, due to its paper-thin hollow bones, this bird was a natural flyer, but would have difficulty fending off predators on land due to its stumpy legs and giant wings.