Even if you’re wide awake, that doesn’t mean your brain is. Yup, parts of your brain fall asleep even if you are awake.
A new study suggests small clusters of neurons in your brain continually switch between “off” and “on” throughout the day, as if your brain is going to sleep and waking up.
“During an ‘on’ state the neurons all start firing rapidly,” said Kwabena Boahen, senior author of the study. “Then all of a sudden they just switch to a low firing rate.”
Boahen says the cycles likely help the brain conserve energy. It’s also possible, researchers say, that times of low-activity act as tiny simulations of sleep, helping neurons clear out waste.
There’s still plenty of research to do on the subject, but scientists think finding a way to keep neurons “on” longer might lead to developments in cognitive enhancement. That’s a fancy way of saying they want to make brains perform better.
So the next time you feel spacey, don’t feel bad: It’s just science.