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REM sleep critical for young brain development; medication interferes

Professor of medical sciences Marcos Frank said scientists have known that infant animals spend much of their early life in REM sleep, but little was understood about the actual nuts and bolts of REM's ability to change or recombine memories.

Frank said young brains, including those of human children, go through critical periods of plasticity - or remodeling - when vision, speech, language, motor skills, social skills and other higher cognitive functions are developed.
The study suggests that during these periods, REM sleep helps growing brains adjust the strength or number of their neuronal connections to match the input they receive from their environment, he said.

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