Today's Science Times is entirely devoted to sleep. I wish I could say the same. Benedict Carey's article discusses the hypothesized role of sleep in the consolidation and organization of memories. The hippocampus - a structure that helps to form new memories - is thought to contain a map-like representation of physical space. And the pattern of activity when rats first learn to move through a maze is repeated the following night when, this scientist presumes, they were consolidating the memory of that movement:
Computers record the cells' firing in real time and can broadcast it over speakers. "I would listen to this background music of the brain sometimes when the animals were asleep, and I started hearing this section that sounded very much like the pattern when the animals were in the maze..."The article does point out that other scientists contest this interpretation of events, as nothing about the research demonstrates that the brain is not performing this process when awake.