Of Rising ScholarsFall 2022

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Polygence Scholar2021
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Atul Venkatesh

Lexingtion High SchoolClass of 2023Lexington, Massachusetts



  • "What is sleep’s effect on synaptic plasticity?" with mentor Kyla (Aug. 24, 2022)

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What is sleep’s effect on synaptic plasticity?

Started Dec. 21, 2021

Abstract or project description

The issue that has mystified the world of neuroscience is surrounding sleep. Sleep is very time-consuming: the average human sleeps for 26 years in their life. Additionally, sleep provides a sense of vulnerability, which may have proven to be catastrophic for primitive humans. In spite of these seemingly disadvantageous aspects, there must be a reason as to why sleep is evolutionarily conserved. It is hypothesized that sleep plays a role in memory formation, synaptic plasticity, and rest, but the question of how it does so is yet to be answered. That is where the Synaptic Homeostasis Hypothesis (SHY) comes in. SHY states that during waking experience, synapses are made and strengthened, while during sleep, these circuits are weakened and made efficient; a process known as renormalization. This would help an individual prosper the next day, as their brain would not be overburdened by the sheer number of synapses made. There have been several other theories regarding synaptic plasticity that have considerable merit. The purpose of this paper is to evaluate the multitude of hypotheses surrounding synaptic plasticity in an effort to bring a deeper understanding to the mysteries of sleep.