An article in the Journal of Neuroscience by Sam A. Deadwyler, Linda Porrino, Jerome M. Siegel, and Robert E. Hampson might appeal to the beleaguered hospital intern or the college student during finals week - anyone who has to combat sleep deprivation or who just wants to stay awake for a long time.

The loss of the hypothalamic neurons that produce orexin-A causes narcolepsy, and the administration of orexin-A produces arousal and increased attention.

This week, Deadwyler et al. provide further evidence that orexin-A can counteract the effects of sleep deprivation. Adult rhesus monkeys were sleep deprived for 30–36 h using a combination of videos, music, treats, gentle rattling of their cages, and constant supervision by laboratory personnel.

Sounds a lot like a college dorm. The monkeys were then tested on a delayed match-to-sample short-term memory task. Monkeys that received orexin-A, particularly by intranasal spray, showed better performance. The differences were most apparent for trials that were classified as high-load cognitive processes. The superiority of the intranasal delivery may prove useful for potential clinical applications.

Article: J. Neurosci. 2007 27: 14239-14247; doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3878-07.2007