Brain scientists at a Canadian university are aiming to get a better handle on how sleep affects memory, problem solving and other cognitive functions in what they are billing as the largest such study ever to be done.
The researchers at Western University, based in London, Ont., are hoping to recruit upwards of 100,000 participants from around the world for the online study.
‘There’s a lot about sleep and sleep deprivation and its effects on the brain that we just don’t know.’
– Bobby Stojanoski, Western University
“There’s a lot about sleep and sleep deprivation and its effects on the brain that we just don’t know,” Bobby Stojanoski, one of the research scientists, said in an interview. “For instance, how much sleep is necessary? Is that true for everybody? Are there certain sub-populations who require more or less sleep?”
A suite of 12 online tests will be used to assess how changes in sleep patterns affect performance. To take part, users register online at worldslargestsleepstudy.com then, over a three-day period, do the brain-function tests and fill in a questionnaire regarding sleep.
Volunteer participants will get a report on how they fared, and how they stacked up against others who’ve done the same testing.
‘World’s largest sleep study’
“We all have a bad night of sleep every once in a while, and we drive our cars and we go to work, but are we doing this in a cognitively deprived state?” Stojanoski said. “We hope to answer these questions.”
The online tests, which can done on any computer, tablet or smartphone, are designed to assess different kinds of thinking. They involve challenges such as finding odd-one-out shapes, moving numbers into place and grammatical tests.
Some preliminary participants have already taken the tests and were given brain scans when fully rested and after a sleepless night, something that would not be practical on a wider scale. The online study — which…