The discovery is exciting, Adamantidis says, because it could lead to new techniques designed to help people recover consciousness from a vegetative or minimally conscious state. Furthermore, it could be used to help patients with sleep disorders, or at least better understand what's stopping them from getting a good night's rest. Electrical stimulation isn't a new idea, but before it was used without a full understanding of the different brain regions and how they affect our sleeping patterns. With this extra knowledge, more deft treatments could soon be developed.
Just don't expect them too soon. "Even though we made an important step forward now, it will take some time before novel therapeutical strategies will be designed based on our results," Adamantidis stresses.