New sleep lab to benefit shift-workers
21 August 2008
Two specialist laboratories opening this week at the University will shed light on the impact of sleep and circadian disruption in medical disorders and shift-workers, and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying substance abuse and depression.
Sydney University's new Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory at the Brain and Mind Research Institute (BMRI) will draw together world leaders in clinical psychiatry, neuroscience, and neurology to investigate the impact of sleep disturbance in degenerative medical disorders.
Of particular interest to the investigators will be the connection between sleep disturbance and neurodegenerative disorders such and Alzheimer's and dementia. The group will also be looking at primary insomnia and major depression as well as vascular risk factors, with a special focus on the young and the elderly.
"One of the areas that we are particularly interested in is the connection between disruption of normal sleep patterns and its impact on bipolar disorder in relation to progression and treatment of the disorder," said Associate Professor Naomi Rogers.
A key feature of the new facility is the 'napping pod' which will be used for productivity related studies and research into the impact of caffeine intake and brief napping.
The Chronobiology and Sleep Laboratory consists of four separate bedrooms and a performance testing room, as well as driving simulators and a range of equipment for physiological monitoring and assessment of subjects.
Also opening at the BMRI tomorrow is the new Brain and Mind Research Institute Neurophysiology Laboratory, where researchers will undertake a series of studies using non-invasive specialist equipment to help distinguish mental health problems, with a focus on the early stages of symptoms.
Researchers using the new laboratory will be focussing on brain activity associated with brain arousal and cognition, particularly in young patients.
"By combining the use of electroencephalography (EEG) and event-related potential (ERP) markers, the new laboratory will increase our understanding of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying mental health problems including schizophrenia, substance misuse and depression," said Dr Daniel Hermens.
Contact: Jake O'Shaughnessy
Phone: +61 2 9351 4312 or 0421 617 861