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Brain Region Linked To Fly Slumber

When a news release states that a brain region is crucial for something, one is led to believe that this is the MAIN center controlling that function. If it is crucial for thermoregulation than it is the center for thermoregulation and without it the animal does not thermoregulate. Or am I misunderstanding English (it is a second language for me, after all)?

So, when the article starts with: “Researchers at Northwestern University have pinpointed a brain area in flies that is crucial to sleep, raising interesting speculation over the purpose of sleep and its possible link with learning and memory,” I expect to see total sleep loss when the brain region is deleted. But, “How the mushroom bodies control sleep is uncertain, but Allada and colleagues show that if the area is destroyed chemically, flies sleep less,” suggesting that a sleep center (if such exists at all – it may be a distributed brain function even in insects) is elsewhere.

Both the Allada study and the Seghal study are excellent and the information is really exciting, but why does a news release have to go beyond, far beyond…

Comments

  1. #1 Dendroica
    June 13, 2006

    I would not necessarily expect a “crucial” center to be the “main” center, but it would depend on the context. In this case, I guess it would be a question of how much less the flies sleep.

  2. #2 ej
    June 13, 2006

    Generally speaking, I agree that “crucial” doesn’t always mean “main”. For example, a sentences like the following could be perfectly correct: “Area alpha is the main center for controlling thermoregulation, but area beta is also crucial.” “A competent gaffer is crucial to the success of any film.”

  3. #3 coturnix
    June 13, 2006

    OK, so crucial is “very important” but not “most important” – is that correct?

    Also, the word “control” in “…How the mushroom bodies control sleep…” sentence is too strong. It obviously affects/influence sleep patterns, but control?

  4. #4 Hailie Colson
    June 14, 2006

    Book
    “Counting Sheep: The Science and Pleasures of Sleep and Dreams” – Paul Martin
    Found at an old used bookstore for less than a dollar. Awesome read regarding the history of sleep sciences.
    Just thought you might find it interesting.

  5. #5 theRidger
    June 14, 2006

    Yes, crucial equals very important – in fact crucial means that without it X won’t happen – but depending on what you’re talking about there could be many crucial elements.

    Control might be too strong – regulate would probably have been better.