Neuronal plasticity in thalamocortical networks during sleep and waking oscillations

Neuron. 2003 Feb 20;37(4):563-76. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00065-5.


Spontaneous brain oscillations during states of vigilance are associated with neuronal plasticity due to rhythmic spike bursts and spike trains fired by thalamic and neocortical neurons during low-frequency rhythms that characterize slow-wave sleep and fast rhythms occurring during waking and REM sleep. Intracellular recordings from thalamic and related cortical neurons in vivo demonstrate that, during natural slow-wave sleep oscillations or their experimental models, both thalamic and cortical neurons progressively enhance their responsiveness. This potentiation lasts for several minutes after the end of oscillatory periods. Cortical neurons display self-sustained activity, similar to responses evoked during previous epochs of stimulation, despite the fact that thalamic neurons remain under a powerful hyperpolarizing pressure. These data suggest that, far from being a quiescent state during which the cortex and subcortical structures are globally inhibited, slow-wave sleep may consolidate memory traces acquired during wakefulness in corticothalamic networks. Similar phenomena occur as a consequence of fast oscillations during brain-activated states.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / physiology*
  • Cats
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Rats
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Thalamus / physiology
  • Wakefulness / physiology*