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URMC / Research / Research@URMC / December 2013 / URMC Study Chosen as One of the “Breakthroughs of the Year”

URMC Study Chosen as One of the “Breakthroughs of the Year”

brain cleanAt the end of each year, the editors of Science magazine sift through the previous 12 months of research and select ten “breakthroughs” that signify seminal scientific achievements.  This year’s list includes a study by URMC neuroscientists that reveals that the brain cleans itself while we sleep. 

The study was one of a rapid series of discoveries from the lab of Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc. that showed that not only does the brain have its own unique method of waste removal, dubbed the glymphatic system, but that this system is primarily active while we sleep

In choosing the study, Science noted that it has the potential to transform our understanding of the essential biological role of sleep:  

“Why do we sleep?  Questions of biology don’t get much more fundamental than that.  This year, neuroscientists took what looks like a major stride toward an answer... If future research finds that many other species undergo this cerebral housekeeping, it would suggest that cleaning is indeed a core function of sleep.  The new findings also suggest that sleep deprivation may play a role in the development of neurological diseases.”

You can see the “Breakthroughs of the Year” issue of Science here.

Mark Michaud | 12/19/2013

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