Researchers based in China and Japan have established a link between sleep and situations with the absence of motivational stimuli. This new study suggests that a set of neurons in a brain area known as the nucleus accumbens, which is associated with motivation and disorder, can also produce sleep.
Researchers used chemo-genetic and optical techniques to monitor the brain circuits involved in sleep control.
According to the findings, it was discovered that nucleus accumbens neurons hold a strong ability to induce sleep that is indistinguishable from the major component of natural sleep, known as slow-wave sleep, as it is characterised by slow and high-voltage brain waves.
"The classic somnogen adenosine is a strong candidate for evoking the sleep effect in the nucleus accumbens", said lead author Yo Oishi on this project from the International Institute for Integrative Sleep Medicine at the University of Tsukuba, Japan.
Adenosine receptors, called A2A receptors, can be found in the nucleus accumbens. Compounds that activate A2A receptors in the nucleus accumbens may open safe therapeutic avenues for treating insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The study was published in journal Nature Communications.