Skip navigation
D. Functional MRI and Brain Research

Narrator: This is Science Today. The use of functional magnetic resonance imaging technology has given researchers at the University of California, San Diego the opportunity to successfully monitor how the brains of sleep deprived subjects perform during simple learning tasks. But Dr. Cris Gillin says another area they'd like to explore is the difference between sleep-deprived men and women.

Gillin: This has not been examined systematically. We know that men and women have somewhat different sleep patterns, probably have somewhat different sleep needs. It would be interesting to see what the effect of sleep deprivation is and does it differ in men and women in terms of the task duration of sleep deprivation and brain responses measured by functional MRI.

Narrator: Using this technology, Gillin says they'd also like to examine how certain medications, including caffeine, affect their sleepy subjects.

Gillin: It would be intriguing to know whether having a cup of coffee before you do this test after being sleep deprived, would that reverse the specific brain abnormalities that we saw? So it gives us a new handle to understand what's really going on.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.