Neuroscience

Sleep Consolidates Visual Experience

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Science  21 Oct 2005:
Vol. 310, Issue 5747, pp. 407
DOI: 10.1126/science.310.5747.407b

Sleep is important for learning and for memory formation. However, there is much controversy about the impact of sleep on brain plasticity and the mechanisms underlying these observations. Jha et al. tested whether local brain activity during sleep was necessary for the establishment of brain plasticity. They used the well-established phenomenon of ocular dominance plasticity, in which monocular deprivation shifts synaptic activity in the primary visual cortex (area V1) of the cat in favor of the nondeprived eye only during a critical developmental period. By pharmacological blockade of action potentials they managed to reversibly silence area V1 only during sleep. Although control animals showed the normal critical period ocular dominance shift, this phenomenon could be prevented by selectively silencing area V1 during sleep. Additional undisturbed sleep after a period of cortical inactivation did not rescue this cortical plasticity. Thus, specific neuronal activity in the affected brain area during sleep immediately after waking experience is required for the consolidation of ocular dominance plasticity. — PRS

J. Neurosci. 25, 9266 (2005).

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