Neuroscientist Eus van Someren will discuss new views on causes and brain mechanisms of insomnia.
About the Seminar
This project aims for new views on causes and mechanisms of insomnia, the second most common mental disorder. While insomnia is partly heritable, we’re still in the dark about its brain mechanisms. Efforts to find underlying malfunctions in sleep-regulating circuits in the brain have not been very successful. New perspectives on brain mechanisms are required to develop better prevention and intervention. The present project will systematically evaluate whether insomnia involves sleep regulating circuits of the brain at all, or rather circuits involved in alertness, consciousness and emotion. Firstly, insomnia might represent a deficiency to shut off brain processes that, during evolution, have been of crucial value for survival, notably monitoring the environment and being prepared for action. Secondly, ongoing mental content or ‘consciousness’ during sleep may be more common than we tend to believe, calling for attention to consciousness. Thirdly, the round-the-clock hyper-aroused state that characterizes insomnia resembles emotional distress so much, that one may consider insomnia to be a disorder of emotional memory regulation. New insights will aid to bending risk to resilience.