Study with flies shows how hot days affect humans

Study with flies shows how hot days affect humans

According to neurobiologists from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (USA), warmer temperatures can affect both our behavior, impairing our energy and quality of sleep, as well as those of fruit flies, which even have the habit of resting. on days of intense heat, even if this is not part of their culture.

Published in the journal Current Biology, the paper explained that our related anatomy and physiology make flies ideal for designing experiments “of importance to both animals and humans.” According to the lead author, Dr. Marco Gallio, to Medical News Todayfruit flies are gaining traction in research because they show a range of complex behaviors similar to people.

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For those who didn’t know, 60% of the genes of insects are the same as those of humans, which made scientists choose the fly – also due to other behaviors, such as napping during the day and preferring temperatures equal to humans. – to understand and compare the genetic underpinnings that influence the body’s adaptations to climate.

Image: fizkes/shutterstock

“People may choose to take an afternoon nap on a hot day, and in some parts of the world that is a cultural norm, but what do you choose and what is programmed into you? Of course, it’s not culture in flies, so actually there could be a very strong underlying biological mechanism that is overlooked in humans,” said Gallio, who is an associate professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University’s Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

Results: flies and their neurons

The results showed that the fly’s antennae serve as a thermometer, as well as “absolute heat receptor” neurons that are part of a wider network and that also controls sleep – which explains the fly’s action to rest at warmer times. The study is the first to detect these neurons and suggests that a similar process occurs in humans.

“We have identified a neuron that could be an integrating site for the effects of hot and cold temperatures on sleep and activity in Drosophila. [espécie de mosca]. This would be the start of interesting follow-up studies,” said Michael Alpert, also an author of the study.

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The process goes like this: when the hot circuit is activated by temperatures above 77 degrees Fahrenheit, the cells that trigger sleep stay longer in action. This leads to longer sleep, which helps flies avoid moving during the hottest part of the day. It is an intelligent process, as it saves energy, and biological.

Humans and insomnia on the hottest days

Despite the study linking hot days with tiredness and the desire for a nap between flies and humans, there are limitations. Research shows that flies find it easy to sleep in the heat, as it is systemic, however, humans find it difficult to fall asleep on warmer nights, sleeping better and faster on cold days. The article did not consider the differences, but intends to continue the analyses.

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Image: Tero Vesalainen (iStock)

“Temperature is as powerful a trigger of sleep organization and sleep depth as light. For you to fall asleep and stay asleep, your body needs to lower your core temperature by about one degree Celsius or about two degrees Fahrenheit. That’s the reason why you’ll always find it easier to fall asleep in a very cold room than a very hot one, because the very cold room is at least taking you in the right thermal direction for good sleep,” explained Dr. Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, told MNT. He was not involved in this study.

Dr. Gallio emphasized that his work was aimed at discovering the “basic principles” that guide how temperature affects behavior and sleep. For him, the study could inspire others to take the research forward, eventually to human investigations, opening doors, for example, to determine specific sensory circuits in the human brain related to sleep, or even consider the effects of climate change on behavior and physiology. of the population.

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