Scientists from Boston University have demonstrated how during sleep the brain is flushed with cerebrospinal fluid, which removes toxic waste products from its tissues.
The study involved 13 healthy adults aged 23 to 33 years. When they fell asleep and were in the stage of non-REM sleep, scientists monitored their brain activity using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At the same time, they were interested in the activity of neurons and the movement of oxygenated blood. With the help of one of the varieties of MRI, researchers were also able to observe the movement of cerebrospinal fluid.
It turned out that at the time of the appearance of delta waves, when blood is directed from the brain, its tissues are washed by pulsating waves of cerebrospinal fluid. Previous studies suggest that with the flow of cerebrospinal fluid during the period of activity of delta waves, tau protein tangles are washed out, the accumulation of which in brain tissues leads to dementia (dementia).
Scientists clarify that during slow sleep, brain neurons do not need an active supply of oxygen, and the blood supply to the brain decreases. At the same time, the pressure in its tissues drops, and due to this, cerebrospinal fluid actively enters there. Its waves bathe the brain every 20 seconds.
Previously, cerebrospinal fluid pulsation, blood flow, and brain waves were measured separately, but now we can say that they are all combined in a single process designed to cleanse the brain of toxic waste products.
Indeed, in older people with Alzheimer’s disease, the pulsation of cerebrospinal fluid during non-REM sleep is much weaker than in people who do not suffer from cognitive impairment. That is, in Alzheimer’s disease, there is an accumulation of tau protein, which destroys the brain and leads to dementia.
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