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  Does staying up late really make people stupid?


  Just as our bodies produce waste every day–which is why we need to shower and use the toilet–our brains produce harmful waste proteins.But how can our brains“shower”themselves?


  A 2013 study found the answer.Researchers at the US University of Rochester studied the brains of mice and discovered that they cleaned themselves while the mice slept.A kind of fluid in the brain,called cerebral spinal fluid,was found to increase dramatically during sleep,washing away waste proteins that had been building up between brain cells in waking hours.


  “This study shows that the brain has different functional states when asleep and when awake,”Maiken Nedergaard,the lead researcher,told NBC News.It also explains why we can’t seem to think clearly after a sleepless night while a good night’s sleep leaves us feeling sharp and refreshed.

  “该研究表明,大脑在睡眠和清醒时的功能状态有所不同,”该研究首席研究员梅肯·内德加德在接受美国全国广播公司新闻频道采访时如此表示。研究也解释了失眠之后我们似乎无法清晰思考,而一夜安眠却让我们感到清醒振作的原因。 纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

  Now a new study,published on Oct 31 in Science,digs a little deeper into our brains’self-cleaning procedure.Instead of mice,this time humans were the test subjects.


  Researchers at Boston University,US,monitored the brain waves of 13 healthy adults who were sleeping,using accelerated fMRI,which is capable of recording faster changes inside the brain than a regular fMRI machine.They found that every 20 seconds,blood flowed out of the brain,making room for a large amount of CSF to come in and“clean”.This cycle coincided with the rhythm of the brain’s slow waves–an electrical activity that happens when we’re in deep sleep.


纽约时报中英文网 http://www.qqenglish.com

  It’s still unknown how these brain activities are connected.But the mere fact that they are connected is exciting enough,since it allows researchers to piece together possible new explanations for misunderstood diseases.


  For example,slow-wave sleep has been proven to play a role in strengthening our memories.This may explain why people with Alzheimer’s often have fewer and weaker slow brainwaves.Based on this new study,there could be one more explanation for diseased brains:They are not clean.


  Nedergaard,leader of the 2013 study,is also excited about the new findings.“Maybe the most important take-home message is that sleep is a serious thing,”she told Scientific American.“You really need to sleep to keep a healthy brain because it links electrical activity to a practical‘housekeeping’function.”




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