Proceedings of The Physiological Society

Sleep Sleep and Circadian Rhythms (London, UK) (2018) Proc Physiol Soc 42, C20

Poster Communications

Investigating the neural circuit basis of sleep disturbance-induced cognitive deficits using the larval zebrafish (Danio rerio)

D. G. Lyons1, S. Reichert1, J. Rihel1

1. Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.


Sleep is vital for brain function, with insufficient or poor sleep inducing severe deficits in cognitive performance. Although these impairments have serious negative effects on health, economic productivity and quality of life, the mechanisms underlying them are not well understood. My work aims to investigate how sleep deprivation leads to performance deficits in simple sensorimotor behavioural tasks. I am employing in vivo functional imaging to characterise the activity of identified task-related circuits as zebrafish larvae perform visually guided behaviours, to attempt to detect the alterations in this activity that are caused by sleep disruption and are associated with impaired task performance. Using an array of different environmental and pharmacological sleep-deprivation paradigms, I then plan to explore the precise pathways leading to this cognitive impairment. Subsequently, by using optogenetic, chemogenetic and pharmacological tools, I aim to mimic, prevent, and reverse these processes to test whether these impairments can be dissociated from sleep loss per se, and determine the sleep-related processes that support efficient cognitive and neurological function. This research will have important implications for understanding of sleep neurobiology, and the development of therapeutics to effectively manage sleep deprivation induced cognitive problems in healthy individuals and in the numerous neuropsychiatric disorders in which sleep dysfunction is implicated.

Where applicable, experiments conform with Society ethical requirements