The problems of memory and of learning are linked to sleep cycle. On several occasions we have learned that mental deficiency of this type was related to lack of sleep, the little rest during night. Many studies have been and are working on this problem, but an Italian research has identified the gene, which would be the protagonist of this link between learning and memory- circadian rhythms sleep.
The latter are regulated by certain genes whose activity differs within 24 hours. In this way the body is driven toward sleep and wakefulness. The correlation between alterations in these genes and circadian rhythms is the result of a study conducted by the research of Dr. Maria Passafaro, Dulbecco Telethon Institute researcher, located at the Institute of Neurosciences of the National Research Council, in Milan. The researchers found, through studies performed in animal models, namely mice, one of the causes of mental retardation could are due to alterations of genes on X chromosome.
The gene in question, involved in the formation of synapses (Points of contact and connection between neurons), is indicated by the abbreviation OPHN-1. Through various studies on mice, researchers have discovered how this protein has a important role in regulating the sleep-wake rhythms, which in turn are responsible for memory and learning deficits. Studies continue to be clear about the basic mechanisms responsible for mental retardation, and then if other genes are further implicated in this.