Can the sleeping brain create unique people that the waking brain has never seen before?

Can the sleeping brain create unique people that the waking brain has never seen before?

Reader Ella asks: “I read a theory that while dreaming, the brain cannot invent new people out of nowhere. Instead, the brain shows people we've seen while awake, or combines a mix of previously-seen physical features to create a "new" person. How would you prove/disprove this theory? Why does the brain do this?”

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Remembering a champion for justice in academia and emulating his approach

Remembering a champion for justice in academia and emulating his approach

We offer a tribute to Dr. Ben Barres, whose groundbreaking science and refusal to remain silent in the face of injustice served as an inspiration to many. This piece and its companion piece by David Lipton are the final installments in our series about inequality in STEM.

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Sleeping with the Cavefishes

Sleeping with the Cavefishes

As a graduate student, I would give my right arm to be a fully functioning human being with little to no sleep. Alas, even Aristotle in 350 BCE observed a seemingly simple truth -- all animals sleep. Much to the frustration of sleep scientists, we still do not fully understand why we need sleep or why there is so much variation between species in sleep behavior. We are, however, beginning to gain an understanding of what may be regulating sleep and how it may have evolved over time, in some cases even making use of unusual model organisms such as Astyanax mexicanus, or the Mexican cavefish.

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A Pathway Towards Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments: Understanding the Role of ApoE in Human Neuron Physiology

A Pathway Towards Alzheimer’s Disease Treatments: Understanding the Role of ApoE in Human Neuron Physiology

More than five million individuals are affected by Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) in the United States. This dementia is the sixth leading cause of death nationwide, and one of every three seniors dies from AD or a related dementia…

Research has primarily sought to understand the biology underlying early-onset familial Alzheimer’s, using genes with well-defined autosomal dominant mutations. However, familial early-onset AD occurs in less than ten percent of Alzheimer’s Disease cases. The majority of cases are sporadic, late-onset, and associated with “risk genes”, particularly APOE.

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