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Elizabeth Cooney is a health reporter for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
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Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Who needs sleep?

Just as weary but exhilarated Red Sox fans head into the World Series on two days' rest, the New York Times devotes its Science section to the subject of sleep.

“To do science you have to have an idea, and for years no one had one; they saw sleep as nothing but an annihilation of consciousness,” Dr. J. Allan Hobson, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard, told the Times. “Now we know different, and we’ve got some very good ideas about what’s going on."

Boston researchers are prominent in the story, beginning with cognitive neuroscientist Robert Stickgold of Harvard and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He and postdoctoral student Matthew Tucker are studying the effect of naps on memorized words. Matthew Wilson of MIT is investigating what happens to mice cells when they record memories. Subimal Datta of Boston University School of Medicine is looking at the chemicals that bathe the brain while we sleep.

“During waking we have a thousand things happening at once, the library is filling up, and we can’t possibly process it all,” Datta says in the Times story. “It’s during sleep that we have this special condition to clear away this overload."

Something to sleep on before tomorrow night's Game 1.

Posted by Elizabeth Cooney at 10:34 AM
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