Eric Kandel:  Short-term memory had been linked to functional changes in existing synapses, while long-term memory was associated with a change in the number of synaptic connections.

Researchers at MIT have confirmed that sleep is essential for long-term storage of memories.  Their study showed that mice unable to “replay” their awake experiences while asleep remember them less well than mice who can perform this function. Scientists from the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuit Genetics at MITs Picower Institute for Learning and Memory report their findings in the June 24 issue of Neuron.

Before any signs of cognitive decline start showing, neuronal synaptic connections are lost in mice destined to develop Alzheimer’s. New research shows that microglia – brain immune cells – destroy synapses in a fashion resembling processes in the developing brain, suggesting that it might be possible to develop drugs targeting disease at far earlier stages.

Connie’s comment: Sleep to grow more synaptic connections for Alzheimer’s disease protection.  Sleeping time for my toddlers is 1hr every afternoon. In other countries, there is siesta, an afternoon nap to refresh the brain. In some work places, all lights are off at noon for an hour.