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Why do we sleep? Over the millenia people have concocted all kinds
of answers to this puzzling question. Even today, scientists
don’t have a comprehensive explanation. One hypothesis is that
our brain needs sleep so that it can store information—or, as
we usually say, memories. During the past decade, many research
teams have accumulated neuroanatomical, behavioral and molecular
data that supports this idea, known as "sleep-dependent memory
processing." It turns out that specific rules govern the
interactions of certain episodes of sleep and categories of memory.
Walker explains this area of research, including his own seminal
studies that capture snapshots of the working brain with fMRI
(functional magnetic resonance imaging) and EEG
(electroencephalograph) to see how the brain's circuitry physically
adapts as a memory takes hold.
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