Dr. Gina Poe: Use Sleep to Enhance Learning, Memory & Emotional State
My guest this episode is Gina Poe, PhD, a professor in the department of integrative biology & physiology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). We discuss her research exploring how sleep impacts learning, memory, hormones and emotions. She discusses tools to enhance your quality of sleep, increase deep sleep, rapid eye movement sleep and growth hormone release-- a key hormone for health, immune function and vitality. Dr. Poe explains how a specific brain area, the locus coeruleus, facilitates the processing of emotions, helps relieve traumas and how to maximize locus coeruleus function. She also explains sleep’s vital role in opiate addiction recovery and how anyone can determine their optimal sleep timing and duration. This episode is rich with basic science information and zero-cost tools to enhance quality and effectiveness of sleep for sake of mental health, physical health and performance.
Major compelling questions about the functional role of the locus coeruleus nucleus that had been difficult to answer, given its remote location and diminutive size, have now become accessible via new neuroscience tools. In this Perspective, 14 investigators provide a historical context for recent discoveries and outline new vistas for investigation.
Gina Poe has been working since 1995 on the mechanisms through which sleep serves memory consolidation and restructuring. Dr. Poe is a southern California native who graduated from Stanford University then worked for two post-baccalaureate years at the VA researching Air Force Test Pilots' brainwave signatures under high-G maneuvers.
We employ tetrode recording and optogenetic techniques in learning animals to see how neural patterns underlying learning are reactivated during sleep, and how activity during sleep influences the neural memory code.
Schwartz et al. perform targeted memory reactivation (TMR) during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep to strengthen the positive outcome of imagery rehearsal therapy (IRT) in patients with nightmare disorder. TMR accelerates IRT by significantly decreasing nightmares, while favoring the activation of emotionally positive dreams.