Day two of SLEEP 2009 was characterized by several debates on methodologies. During the poster session in the morning, Bob Stickgold’s group from Harvard Medical School, who study the importance of sleep in emotional regulation and memory consolidation, have disovered that the point-of-view (POV) in which people dream determines later performance on spatial memory tests: there are two commonly reported dreaming POV. egocentric (how we view the world walking down the street) and allocentric (how we view the world standing atop the John Hancock Observatory Tower; i.e. aerial view). People who report allocentric dreaming have significantly better performance on spatial memory tasks. Now, it is time to localize the brain circuits and neuromodulatory functioning responsible for this disparity…..
In the second half of the day, I went to a discussion group on different methodologies used to sleep deprive animals. Though every member in attendance utilized sleep deprivation to study recovery sleep and hypoxia, our lab uses the same methodologies for another reason; to reset the circadian timing system through nonphotic input (exercise, sleep deprivation, and antidepressants, for example). Most importantly, this discussion motivated everyone in attendance to collaborate, and write a synopsis of the discussion that could be attached to an NIH grant stating that many scientists (including the bigwigs of circadian rhythms and sleep research in attendance; Fred Turek of Northwestern and Alan Pack of UPENN) agree that different and unique methodolgies for sleep depriving rodents should be encouraged, and not limited, as currently viewed by the reviewing committee of NIH grants.
Until tomorrow…get your allocentric dream on (especially my friends who are studying and taking candidacy exams soon).