Sleep-Deprived brain cells may shut down, even if you’re awake

When deprived of sleep, parts of the human brain may doze off, secretly snatching moments of slumber even as people seem to be awake. That could explain why our sleep-deprived selves are so cognitively challenged: We are, if not precisely half-asleep, partially asleep.

Scientists experimented on rats and found that scattered neurons (brain cells) throughout the rats’ brains gradually alternated between periods of activity and inactivity

Many animals also alternate between shutting down their brains’ left and right hemispheres, allowing for rest while maintaining vigilance. These experiments on rats also suggest that single neurons can move into a rest state. The ability to control behavior actively with some neural circuits while others may be idling could be evolutionarily advantageous. Learn more here or here.

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