Segments in this Video

Drowsiness (02:11)


Far ahead of alcohol and speeding, drowsiness is leading cause of vehicle accidents in France.

Mechanisms of Drowsiness (03:25)

We observe how a driving simulator is used to research the transition from alertness to a state of drowsiness or even sleep. Brainwave data indicates that people shift from periods of hypovigilance to alertness.

Brain and Sleep (03:09)

We learn what people perceive prior to experiencing deep drowsiness and what happens when people fall asleep. The thalamus plays a central role in sleep and the place between wakefulness and sleep.

Sleep (02:39)

Is sleeping a state in which we have no control? Why can't people resist falling asleep? We observe an experiment in which a young woman is kept awake for three days.

Circadian Rhythm (03:02)

The circadian cycle is approximately 24 hours long. If this cycle and the wake/sleep cycle are in sync, all goes well. If one is sleep deprived, the circadian signal cannot compensate, and a person becomes drowsy. Sleep is so important that lack of consistent good sleep (8 hours) can lead to premature death and loss of cognitive abilities.

Light and the Brain (03:04)

Eyes are important in regulating waking and sleep cycles. Light directly stimulates structures deep in the brain.

Sleep Problems (03:49)

Research has shown that sleep quality is determined during waking hours. People who are chronically drowsy go to sleep clinics for study. Narcolepsy is a rare but powerful condition that causes people to experience extreme drowsiness. The sleep they experience is very different from sleep that is involved in sleep apnea.

Narcolepsy (02:43)

Narcolepsy offers researchers the perfect model for understanding all the systems involved in waking and sleeping. We learn about brain chemicals that function alone or in synergy with others to influence waking or sleeping.

Mice and Sleep Studies (04:36)

Studies in mice tell researchers how brain chemicals influence wakefulness and drowsiness. This research helps scientists formulate chemicals to use in humans who have chronic drowsiness. People tell how they combat drowsiness.

Human Factor (03:14)

In the technological world of today, humans represent the error factor. Pilots must ignore their normal sleep and wakefulness cycles in an environment that is often boring and monotonous. New studies focus on measuring degrees of alertness in pilots. We see how a new technique reduces pilot drowsiness: Pilots take naps.

Fatigue Risk (04:48)

For long flights, those that exceed 20 hours, pilots need something to combat drowsiness or fatigue risk. Systematic studies resulted in airlines increasing crews and modifying shift timetables. Researchers look for biomarkers that would provide an indication for drowsiness.

Other Factors Involved in Drowsiness (03:07)

When drivers face minimum visual stimulation, it is easier for the mind to wander and for people to get lost in thought. When people get drowsy, they won't necessarily think that they are driving.

Mind Wandering (02:15)

Mind wandering occurs when thoughts in the brain are unrelated to the reality of what is going on. Scientists have ways of detecting minds that are wandering. During monotonous tasks, the mind automatically wanders. Thoughts during mind-wandering have mostly to do with the future.

Monotony and the Brain (01:50)

People enter mind wandering unconsciously. As monotonous conditions are more and more widespread, humans are greater sources of error than ever before. Train operators in France are given tasks to do that can result in loud noises or the train stopping.

Humans Like Machines (01:26)

Human ancestors had hunger and the hunt to keep them awake. When humans began working like machines and then supervising machines and computers, the need for humans to be hypervigilant has kept increasing.

Truck Driving in the Electronic Age (02:24)

Truck driving is a hazardous occupation. Trucks are now equipped with advanced electronic warning systems, and drivers "no longer really have to do the driving." How long can a driver remain alert when he or she is alone and has very little to do?

How to Stay Awake and Alert (02:54)

Humans have tried just about everything to stay awake and alert: chewing gum, stimulants, artificial light, sound disruption, and more. These are not infallible. The one sure method of keeping from dozing off is another human. Virtual passengers are able to observe everything that happens in the vehicle. We see how advanced these virtual passengers have become.

Credits: Sleepiness: When Your Brain Has a Mind of Its Own (00:44)

Credits: Sleepiness: When Your Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

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Sleepiness: When Your Brain Has a Mind of Its Own

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Although it might not be a crime to operate a motor vehicle when sleep-deprived, the truth is that a drowsy driver is just as dangerous as a drunk one. The impact of sleepiness on young minds in the classroom is alarming, too—and it’s staggering to think of the productivity lost when workers nod off on the job. This program looks at how the brain succumbs to sleep and how that process might be better managed, or even prevented, using specially developed tools and treatments. Introducing the concept of hypovigilance while outlining the role of the thalamus in sensory perception and the significance of circadian rhythms in daily life, the film follows the work of accident-analysis experts and visits a lab combining cognitive neuroscience with driving simulators. Meanwhile, a biologist describes his study of “time shifts” and how exposure to various colors, especially blue, can enhance alertness. The result is a fascinating look at the intersection of physiology, neurology, safety research, and the improvement of human efficiency. (Portions with English subtitles, 53 minutes)

Length: 54 minutes

Item#: BVL50439

ISBN: 978-1-62290-970-4

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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