Scientists coolly offer a theory for alertness
Friday 04 February 1994
Drivers instinctively open the car window if they feel drowsy, but, until now, scientists did not know why keeping a cool head should keep people alert.
The latest 'theory of alertness' comes from a team at Harvard University, which describes its work in a paper published in today's issue of Science magazine.
The team, led by Professor Robert Greene of Harvard Medical School's department of psychiatry, examined a group of neurons in the brain known to control arousal and a key 'messenger' compound, called adenosine, with a role in storing energy in the body's cells. They found that adenosine also has a critical part to play in communication between one neuron and another, blocking the passage of messages. The more adenosine there is, the less active the brain will be.
'When your cells are tired, adenosine levels go up, firing slows down and the more drowsy and fatigued you feel,' he said. 'After prolonged exercise you will often feel drowsy, because the more exercise you do the more your brain heats up, and up go your adenosine levels.'
Prolonged mental activity could have the same effect, he said. Thinking hard for a long time could heat up the brain enough to induce sleepiness.
- 2 Moscow voted the world's unfriendliest city
- 3 The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
- 4 I'm pansexual – here are the five biggest misconceptions about my sexuality
- 5 More than 11,000 Icelanders offer to house Syrian refugees to help European crisis
The one chart that shows how George Osborne is almost certainly going to be our next Prime Minister
The excuses your boss is most likely to believe when you call in sick
Bono's group has made more money from Facebook investment than from all his music
Three-year-old ultra-Orthodox Jewish children told 'the non-Jews' are 'evil' in worksheet produced by London school
Wikipedia rocked by 'rogue editors' blackmail scam targeting small businesses and celebrities
Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record 'by a mile', experts say
Jeremy Corbyn calls Osama bin Laden's killing a 'tragedy' - but was it taken out of context?
If these extraordinarily powerful images of a dead Syrian child washed up on a beach don’t change Europe’s attitude to refugees, what will?
If you're not already angry about the refugee crisis, here's a history lesson to remind you why you really should be
Tony Blair attacks Jeremy Corbyn's 'Alice In Wonderland' politics
Theresa May says migrants should be banned from entering the UK unless they have jobs lined up
£40000 - £42000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT support company has a n...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A works engineer is required in a progressive ...
£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is seeking someone w...