Sleep is composed of an alternating sequence of REM and non-REM episodes, but their respective roles are not known. We found that the overall firing rates of hippocampal CA1 neurons decreased across sleep concurrent with an increase in the recruitment of neuronal spiking to brief "ripple" episodes, resulting in a net increase in neural synchrony. Unexpectedly, within non-REM episodes, overall firing rates gradually increased together with a decrease in the recruitment of spiking to ripples. The rate increase within non-REM episodes was counteracted by a larger and more rapid decrease of discharge frequency within the interleaved REM episodes. Both the decrease in firing rates and the increase in synchrony during the course of sleep were correlated with the power of theta activity during REM episodes. These findings assign a prominent role of REM sleep in sleep-related neuronal plasticity.
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