Sleep Clears β-amyloid from the Brain
This activity analyzes a published scientific figure from a study that investigated the biological importance of sleep. In this study, scientists tested whether sleep plays a role in removing harmful substances from the brain.
The study focused on a protein called β-amyloid (also known as amyloid beta or Aβ), a metabolic waste product that is linked to Alzheimer’s disease. The scientists used mice as model organisms to determine whether the rate of Aβ removal is higher during sleep. The figure shows the different rates at which Aβ was cleared from the brains of mice that were awake, sleeping, or anesthetized with the anesthetic ketamine/xylazine (KX).
The “Educator Materials” document includes a captioned figure, background information, graph interpretation, and discussion questions. The “Student Handout” includes a captioned figure and background information.
Student Learning Targets
- Analyze and interpret data from a scientific figure.
- Explain how sleep may help preserve brain function by clearing out metabolic waste products.
Alzheimer’s disease, bar graph, error bar, metabolite, model organism, mouse, p value
Xie, Lulu, Hongyi Kang, Qiwu Xu, Michael J. Chen, Yonghong Liao, Meenakshisundaram Thiyagarajan, John O’Donnell, et al. “Sleep Drives Metabolite Clearance from the Adult Brain.” Science 342, 6156 (2013): 373–377. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1241224.
To access this article, set up a free AAAS account. An annotated version of the article is also available from Science in the Classroom.
Accessibility Level (WCAG compliance)
HS-LS1-2; SEP2, SEP4, SEP5
AP Biology (2019)
ENE-3.D; SP1, SP4
IB Biology (2016)
Common Core (2010)
Math.S-ID.3, Math.S-IC.1; MP2, MP5
Vision and Change (2009)
CC2; DP2, DP3