(photo credit: ING IMAGE/ASAP)
Comparing the sleep of art students with that of social sciences students, University of Haifa researchers found clear differences. Art students had more sleep problems and dysfunction during the day, but social science students, who were more verbal, went to bed later, awoke later and slept more hours than the art students.
The researchers concluded that the two types of creativity had different sleep characteristics, hinting that processing and expression in their brains involved different psychobiological mechanisms.
Doctoral student Neta Ram-Valsov, working under the supervision of Prof. Tamar Shohat of the nursing department, said that there are four characteristics of creative people. They may have fluency – the ability to provide a wide variety of ideas; flexibility – to move from one type of thinking to another to provide a variety of ideas; originality – with new ideas that are unique compared to ideas of those around them; and the ability to refine each idea separately.
They and colleagues at Assuta Hospital and the Jezreel Valley College investigated how the two types of creativity – visual and verbal – affected the characteristics of objective sleep, its duration, timing and quality.
The study involved 30 undergraduate students from seven academic institutions. Half of them studied art and the rest social sciences. They were all examined in a sleep lab, wore a device that objectively assesses sleep and kept a sleep log.
Results showed that among all the participants, the higher the level of visual creativity, the lower the quality of their sleep and the more dysfunction they suffered during the day. The more creative they were verbally, they longer they slept, went to sleep later and awakened later, although many hours of sleep was not found to be a guarantee of good sleep.
The researchers hypothesized that visual creativity places a person into a state of hyperarousal and this may lead to sleep disturbances. On the other hand, oversleeping (more than eight hours) makes it possible for the brain to perform more processing of what happened to them when awake. In any case, they concluded, “the findings are further evidence that creativity is not monolithic, and visual creativity versus verbal expression is activated and run by different brain mechanisms.”
HOW TO MIX THE PERFECT COCKTAIL Drug cocktails such as those for treating cancer, like the alcoholic versions offered at the local bar, are best when the proper ingredients are mixed in the right proportions.
Like the cocktails that people normally drink, the combination of ingredients can be better than the sum of its parts – or it can cause unwanted side effects.
A new model developed in by Prof. Uri Alon of the Weizmann Institute of Science’s molecular cell biology department and colleagues can simplify the process of identifying the optimal blends for drug cocktails – even when a large number of ingredients is called for.
Drug cocktails – both antibiotic and anti-cancer – are increasingly used, among other things, because simultaneously attacking pathogenic cells with several different methods can reduce the risk of drug resistance. And doctors and pharmaceutical companies are interested in the advance of drug “mixology” because it can help create novel applications for existing drugs, since new ones are costly to develop and slow to reach the market.
But adding drugs together does not generally result just in the sum of their effects. For instance, one drug can alert mechanisms in a cell that pump the other drugs out of the cell, thus changing the dose at which the other drugs will be effective. Conversely, side effects can add up, so researchers often want to identify the lowest possible dose of any given drug. And with typically four or more drugs added together in chemotherapy cocktails, the number of possible combinations and doses is astronomical; it would be impossible to test them all to arrive at the optimal mix. This hurdle is known as the combinatorial explosion problem.
Because of the combinatorial explosion problem, said research students Anat Zimmer and Itay Katzir, who led the study, drug cocktails are often concocted without any good way of predicting the end result. The students developed a method that bypasses the need for a huge number of measurements, and their method requires only a small number of measurements on drug pairs.
The tests were conducted on human cancer cells or bacteria grown in lab dishes, and they were tried separately and in pairs to understand the effects at several different doses. This enabled the researchers to determine how drug A affects the actions of B, and vice versa, and the new mathematical model the group developed was then extrapolated to predict the interactions among three, four and more drugs in combination.
Further testing showed that the model performs better than existing methods of dealing with the combinatorial explosion problem. Thus researchers using the model would not need to test every possible combination to arrive at the optimal doses in drug cocktails.
“There is an urgent demand for methods that can predict how drug cocktails will work,” says Katzir. “This model may take much of the expensive guesswork out of the process of developing such cocktails.”
“The model might prove especially useful for personalized medicine – for example, in cancer –because each tumor can react differently to the same drugs,” adds Zimmer.
“It provides a way to mix that perfect cocktail without having to try out all of the possible combinations.”