For more than a century, scientists have known that abnormal clumps and tangles in the brain are the hallmarks of Alzheimer’s disease. But identifying the cause of that devastating damage has proven elusive, hampering efforts to come up with a cure for an affliction that robs memory from millions of people worldwide.
But what if those clumps and tangles accumulated because the brain’s garbage disposal went on the fritz? And what if a lack of sleep played some role in the breakdown of the trash-removal process?
Over the last decade, neuroscientists have been testing this provocative thesis, largely in mice. In this issue, contributor Laura Beil explains the thinking behind this theory, and why the idea that Alzheimer’s is a