Current Research Focus
Bryson's current research focuses on understanding the sleep patterns of wild animals. Sleep is a paramount event in everyone's life, and everything from a fly to a whale sleeps. Yet the exact purpose of this curious state is unclear. Bryson's approach to answering the "why" question is by examining sleep in various species in the animal kingdom. By understanding how sleep differs across species, perhaps underlying commonalities will emerge, shedding light on the human need for sleep.
Armed with new micro EEG Sleep loggers, Bryson is able to record sleep in wild, unrestrained animals in their natural habitat. This new technology has opened the door to studying sleep in the wild. Previous to this work, all animal sleep studies were done on captive or caged animals. Bryson and his fellow scientists found there is a huge sleep difference between captive and wild animals. Imagine studying sleep in humans by recording their sleep only while they are flying on airplanes. Since most people sleep poorly on overnight flights, and almost none get their recommended 8 hours, the results would paint a vastly incorrect portrait of human sleep. Thus, to truly understand how animals sleep, these studies must be done outside the laboratory, in their natural habitats.
Voirin, B, et al. 2014. Ecology and Neurophysiology of Sleep in Two Wild Sloth Species. SLEEP 36(4)
Suutari M, Majaneva M, Fewer DP, Voirin B, Aiello A, Friedl T, Chiarello AG, Blomster J. 2010. Molecular evidence for a diverse green algal community growing in the hair of sloths and a specific association with Trichophilus welckeri (Chlorophyta, Ulvophyceae). BMC Evolutionary Biology 10:86.
Voirin B, Kays R, Lowman M, Wikelski M. 2009. Evidence of three-toed sloth predation by spectacled owl. Edentata 10:15-20
Voirin B. 2009. Review of Avise JC, Hubbell SP, Ayala FJ (eds) 2008. In the Light of Evolution, Volume II: Biodiversity and Extinction. Integrative and Comparative Biology 49: 726-727
Rattenborg NC, Voirin B, Vyssotski AL, Kays RW, Spoelstra K, Kuemmeth F, Heidrich W, Wikelski M. 2008. Sleeping outside the box: electroencephalographic measures of sleep in sloths inhabiting a rainforest. Biology Letters 4:402-405
Voirin B. 2006. The esoteric lives of two- and three-toed sloths. The Explorers Club Journal.
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