Could a blind fish help humans with sleep problems?

Could a blind fish help scientists learn more about human sleep patterns? Neuroscientist, Alex Keene, from Florida Atlantic University Institute joins Hari Sreenivasan via Google Hangout to discuss the blind Mexican catfish.

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Could a blind fish help scientists learn more about human sleep patterns?

Neuroscientist Alex Keene from Florida Atlantic University studies the blind Mexican catfish with the hope of unlocking the mystery of sleep loss.

All right, thanks for being with us.

Sleep is something that most of us don't feel like we get enough of, so what can we learn from this particular fish?

Tell us a little bit about the fish.

What makes it so special?

Okay, a basic question.

How do we know when a fish is asleep?

So, how much sleep do these fish need to get through a day?

So, is the secret then, that perhaps they don't have any visual stimulus, 'cause they're not really seeing much, 'cause it's so dark?

Okay, obviously, the next question is going to be, when can I get that in a pill?

And... [ Laughs ] Right?

I mean, so how -- is it -- have you isolated it to just that variable?

So then, I'm thinking about, uh, the ability to stay up longer, just 'cause I feel like I need to get more done, but then you're saying that you could modify this in both directions to try to get me a better night's rest when I do have the time?

If we have this in our brain, as well, has there ever been any attempt to try to modify that, up or down?

Is that even possible?

So, right now you're studying mostly fish.

Are there any other kind of species that you've been curious about, that are exhibiting these kind of sleep patterns that we could learn from?

And you find this same hypocretin across different species, perhaps that would lend more credibility to your theory.

All right.

Best of luck to you.

Alex Keene from Florida Atlanta University.

Thanks so much for joining us.