Mapping the birth of the sleep connectome

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Science  20 Nov 2015:
Vol. 350, Issue 6263, pp. 909-910
DOI: 10.1126/science.aad6489

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We generally fall asleep and then wake up at least 25,000 to 30,000 times throughout our lifetime. Transitions between sleep and waking appear to occur seamlessly, but the underlying mechanisms are extraordinarily complex. There is much interest in characterizing the brain's neuronal circuitry that control these shifts in state, and recent research has pointed to specific populations of neurons in the brainstem, hypothalamus, basal forebrain, and thalamus. On page 957 of this issue, Hayashi et al. (1) report that a specific population of neurons in the early developing hindbrain gives rise to subpopulations that contribute to the sleep-wake circuitry.