The Why of Sleep

Brain studies may reveal the purpose of a behavior both basic and mystifying

By Tina Hesman Saey, 08:42 AM October 8, 2009

In a lab at MIT, a small black mouse named Buddy sleeps alone inside a box. A cone resembling a satellite dish sits atop his head. But the dish doesn’t receive signals from outer space. Instead it sends transmissions from deep inside Buddy’s brain to a bank of computers across the room.

Scientists like Jennie Young eavesdrop on the transmissions, essentially reading Buddy’s mind, or at least that part of his mind occupied with a recent trip along a Plexiglas track littered with chocolate spri...

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