A neuronal group theory of sleep function

J Sleep Res. 1993 Jun;2(2):63-69. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.1993.tb00064.x.


A new theory of sleep function is presented within the context of the neuronal group selection hypothesis, which emphasizes that neuronal groups compete for neurons via use-dependent synaptic formation and atrophy. It is hypothesized that sleep serves to stabilize these competitive processes by providing a pattern of stimulation that serves to maintain a synaptic infrastructure upon which wakefulness-driven synaptic changes are superimposed. Sleep is 'quantal' in nature in that sleep is a statistical property of a population of neuronal groups in different states. The theory unifies past theories of sleep function yet simultaneously provides a fundamental new paradigm for sleep research.