Engineering Innovation Podcast and Radio Series

Sleep Secrets

PostedDecember 31, 2006

Randy Atkins:  Sleep refreshes the mind and may enhance memory.  But Terry Sejnowski, of the Salk Institute, says no one really understands why your brain needs it.

Terry Sejnowski:  We know that the activity doesn’t disappear when we fall asleep, it just changes its form.

Randy Atkins:  Sleep studies currently involve lots of wires and a person to interpret brain waves.  Sejnowski has engineered a computer program that generates more detailed information from a single electrode.

Terry Sejnowski:  This can be done automatically, and in an unbiased and objective way, very quickly and efficiently.

Randy Atkins:  The less cumbersome method may allow the chance to find subtle differences between awake and asleep brains.

Terry Sejnowski:  For the first time, we do have the tools and techniques to answer some of these questions that have really perplexed us for many, many decades.

Randy Atkins:  With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP Radio.