Sleep: The Brain's Housekeeper?

Emily is a staff writer at Science.

Scientists have long speculated that one of the functions of sleep is to restore and repair the brain, but whether this is a "core" purpose of sleep remains controversial. Now, a paper published in Science this week on page 373 provides direct experimental evidence that the mouse brain cleans itself during sleep, by expanding channels between neurons that allow an influx of cerebrospinal fluid. The fluid flushes out detritus such as amyloid proteins, which accumulate as plaques in Alzheimer's disease, twice as fast when mice are sleeping as when they are awake.

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Posted in Biology, Brain & Behavior