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Analyzing a worm's sleep

C. elegans, which is about the size of the comma in this sentence, can be induced to sleep by certain stressors, such as heat. Researchers have used this behavior to get at the root of what regulates the worm's sleep. The transparent organisms, which live for only a few weeks, can be easily observed through microscopes. In 2007, a former Caltech postdoc, Cheryl Van Buskirk, now at California State University, Northridge, discovered that one cell alone, known as the ALA neuron, is responsible for inducing sleep in C. elegans; if you remove that cell, the  cannot fall asleep.

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