Sleep Electrophysiology and Reward Processing

Summer 2012

Adam Krause : Science, Philosophy (minor)

Mentor: Matthew Walker, Psychology

Recent evidence suggests that sleep and sleep loss have profound effects on emotional brain reactivity, especially for positive emotional experiences. As a consequence, sleep disruption may lead to detrimental risk taking and reward seeking. However, it remains unclear exactly what type of sleep helps reset the brain’s ability to appropriately react to rewarding experiences. I propose to test the hypothesis that a specific type of sleep—rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, and its associated electrical brain activity—restores the optimal next-day reactivity to rewarding, motivating experiences. I will therefore investigate whether the quantity and electrical quality of the sleeping brain predicts (hence, resets) appropriate levels of next-day reactivity in reward centers of the brain. Considering the high prevalence of sleep disruption in addiction disorders, combined with the continued loss of sleep time in young populations where risk taking and reward seeking are a major concern, this proposed research holds direct clinical and societal ramifications.

I gladly welcome the opportunity given to me by the SURF program to commit myself full-time to learning and exercising the skills of neuroscientific research, especially with the fantastic members of the Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab. I am grateful to be in a setting where I am so encouraged and supported by faculty, fellow student-researchers, and SURF. The work I will do this summer will prove absolutely invaluable when writing my Honors Thesis and in my post-graduation research endeavors.