Quality sleep is essential for a healthy life, which is why so many studies are continuously made to learn about the science behind a restful slumber. A study that’s recently been done at the University of British Columbia found that the smell of a romantic partner’s pheromones is an important component in quality rest.
Study participants exposed to their partner’s scent slept better, even though their partners weren’t physically present!
Effective as a Sleep Aid
This research basically proved that sleeping with a partner’s scent, even if it’s just on their shirt, leads to a more efficient sleeping experience. The study’s lead author, Marlise Hofer, reveals that the improvement seen is more than two percent, which is very similar to the effect of an oral melatonin supplement commonly used as a sleeping aid.
The resulting sleep data revealed that participants tossed and turned less when their partner’s scent was present, even if they weren’t told whose scent they were smelling. The researchers explain that the presence of a long-term romantic partner leads to the feeling of safety and calmness, which improves relaxation and leads to a more restful slumber.
How the Research Was Done
Tests were performed with the help of 155 participants. They were given two identical shirts, one that had their partner’s scent on it and the other that was either clean or previously worn by a stranger. The participant’s partners wore the shirt for 24 hours without using deodorant, smoking, or eating foods that can affect body odor. The participants weren’t told which shirt had which scent on it.
These shirts were used as pillowcases to expose the participants to the scent overnight. Every morning, they would fill out a survey about how they slept and how rested they felt. For an objective insight in sleep quality, an actigraphy watch was used to measure their overnight movement.
Given the promising results of this experiment, the researchers are recruiting participants for a similar study to test if infants sleep better with the scent of a parent present.
Newly-Developed Implant Could Restore Rudimentary Vision in the Blind
The possibility of restoring vision to the blind seems to be on the verge of reality. According to the findings made at the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience that were published in “Science” on December 3rd, 2020, a newly-developed implant could be used to stimulate the visual cortex with artificially induced shapes.
How the Implants Work
Back in the 1970s, the idea of achieving artificial vision by stimulating the brain via implants was first considered. With the use of modern technology and resources, the researchers at NIN, led by Pieter Roelfsema have made great headway in producing and testing new, durable, high-definition implants. The implant consists of 1024 electrodes that can deliver electrical stimuli to the brain, generating the precept of dots of light within the visual space. This way, artificial pixels can be generated to construct artificial images. The research of this technology so far has been conducted on monkeys. Using the implant, the researchers created interpretable images through electrical stimulation. The monkeys have been able to successfully recognize shapes, lines, moving dots, and letters using artificial vision.
The Potential for Restoring Functional Vision in the Blind
A postdoctoral researcher in Roelfsema’s team, Xing Chen, explains that their implant is designed to fully bypass the visual processing stages that would normally happen in the eye or the optic nerve by interfacing with the visual cortex in the brain directly. This means that the technology could be used in the future to restore low vision in the blind who have suffered from issues related to the eye, optic nerve, or retina, but whose visual cortex is still intact. Based on this research, a neuroprosthetic device could be developed to allow the blind to recognize objects, navigate safely, and provide them with a much higher quality of life. With the first steps of the research showing great promise, there is potential for such an astonishing device to be made in the future.