Sleep is essential for proper brain function in mammals and insects. During sleep, animals are disconnected from the external world; they show high arousal thresholds and changed brain activity. Sleep deprivation results in a sleep rebound. Research using the fruit fly, , has helped us understand the genetic and neuronal control of sleep. Genes involved in sleep control code for ion channels, factors influencing neurotransmission and neuromodulation, and proteins involved in the circadian clock. The neurotransmitters/neuromodulators involved in sleep control are GABA, dopamine, acetylcholine, serotonin, and several neuropeptides. Sleep is controlled by the interplay between sleep homeostasis and the circadian clock. Putative sleep-wake centers are located in higher-order brain centers that are indirectly connected to the circadian clock network. The primary function of sleep appears to be the downscaling of synapses that have been built up during wakefulness. Thus, brain homeostasis is maintained and learning and memory are assured.


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