Good and Bad in the Hibernating Brain

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A.M. Strijkstra (2006), JBIS, 59, 119-123

Refcode: 2006.59.119
Keywords: Ground squirrel, torpor, EEG, neuronal connectivity, memory, circadian rhythms

Hibernators survive long periods of time without behavioural activity. To minimize energy expenditure, hibernators use the natural hypometabolic state of torpor. Deep torpor in ground squirrels is accompanied by reduction of brain activity, and is associated with changes in electrical activity patterns, with changes in neuronal connectivity, with tau protein hyperphosphorylation, and with loss of behavioural function (e.g., spatial memory, operational conditioning, behavioural rhythmicity). Thus, deep torpor does not guarantee unchanged physiological and behavioural outcome. However, the adverse effects of deep torpor may be limited to the extreme hibernation strategy used by ground squirrels. The wide variety of natural hibernation strategies may serve as a basis to identify hypometabolic strategies appropriate for long lasting human hypome- tabolism.

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