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1.  Prolonged wakefulness alters neuronal responsiveness to local electrical stimulation of the neocortex in awake rats 
Journal of sleep research  2013;22(3):264-271.
Prolonged wakefulness or a lack of sleep lead to cognitive deficits, but little is known about the underlying cellular mechanisms. We recently found that sleep deprivation affects spontaneous neuronal activity in the neocortex of sleeping and awake rats. While it is well known that synaptic responses are modulated by ongoing cortical activity, it remains unclear whether prolonged waking affects responsiveness of cortical neurons to incoming stimuli. By applying local electrical microstimulation to the frontal area of the neocortex, we found that after a 4-hour period of waking the initial neuronal response in the contralateral frontal cortex was stronger and more synchronous, and was followed by a more profound inhibition of neuronal spiking as compared to the control condition. These changes in evoked activity suggest increased neuronal excitability and indicate that after staying awake cortical neurons become transiently bistable. We propose that some of the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation may be a result of altered neuronal responsiveness to incoming intrinsic and extrinsic inputs.
PMCID: PMC3723708  PMID: 23607417
sleep; LFP; evoked responses; cerebral cortex; multi-unit recording; prolonged wakefulness
2.  Lempel-Ziv complexity of cortical activity during sleep and waking in rats 
Journal of Neurophysiology  2015;113(7):2742-2752.
Understanding the dynamics of brain activity manifested in the EEG, local field potentials (LFP), and neuronal spiking is essential for explaining their underlying mechanisms and physiological significance. Much has been learned about sleep regulation using conventional EEG power spectrum, coherence, and period-amplitude analyses, which focus primarily on frequency and amplitude characteristics of the signals and on their spatio-temporal synchronicity. However, little is known about the effects of ongoing brain state or preceding sleep-wake history on the nonlinear dynamics of brain activity. Recent advances in developing novel mathematical approaches for investigating temporal structure of brain activity based on such measures, as Lempel-Ziv complexity (LZC) can provide insights that go beyond those obtained with conventional techniques of signal analysis. Here, we used extensive data sets obtained in spontaneously awake and sleeping adult male laboratory rats, as well as during and after sleep deprivation, to perform a detailed analysis of cortical LFP and neuronal activity with LZC approach. We found that activated brain states—waking and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep are characterized by higher LZC compared with non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. Notably, LZC values derived from the LFP were especially low during early NREM sleep after sleep deprivation and toward the middle of individual NREM sleep episodes. We conclude that LZC is an important and yet largely unexplored measure with a high potential for investigating neurophysiological mechanisms of brain activity in health and disease.
PMCID: PMC4416627  PMID: 25717159
Lempel-Ziv complexity; local field potentials; neuronal activity; rats; sleep
3.  Sleep and the single neuron: the role of global slow oscillations in individual cell rest 
Nature reviews. Neuroscience  2013;14(6):443-451.
Sleep is universal in animals, but its specific functions remain elusive. We propose that sleep’s primary function is to allow individual neurons to perform prophylactic cellular maintenance. Just as muscle cells must rest after strenuous exercise to prevent long-term damage, brain cells must rest after intense synaptic activity. We suggest that periods of reduced synaptic input (‘off periods’ or ‘down states’) are necessary for such maintenance. This in turn requires a state of globally synchronized neuronal activity, reduced sensory input and behavioural immobility — the well-known manifestations of sleep.
PMCID: PMC3972489  PMID: 23635871
4.  The Temporal Structure of Behaviour and Sleep Homeostasis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50677.
The amount and architecture of vigilance states are governed by two distinct processes, which occur at different time scales. The first, a slow one, is related to a wake/sleep dependent homeostatic Process S, which occurs on a time scale of hours, and is reflected in the dynamics of NREM sleep EEG slow-wave activity. The second, a fast one, is manifested in a regular alternation of two sleep states – NREM and REM sleep, which occur, in rodents, on a time scale of ∼5–10 minutes. Neither the mechanisms underlying the time constants of these two processes – the slow one and the fast one, nor their functional significance are understood. Notably, both processes are primarily apparent during sleep, while their potential manifestation during wakefulness is obscured by ongoing behaviour. Here, we find, in mice provided with running wheels, that the two sleep processes become clearly apparent also during waking at the level of behavior and brain activity. Specifically, the slow process was manifested in the total duration of waking periods starting from dark onset, while the fast process was apparent in a regular occurrence of running bouts during the waking periods. The dynamics of both processes were stable within individual animals, but showed large interindividual variability. Importantly, the two processes were not independent: the periodic structure of waking behaviour (fast process) appeared to be a strong predictor of the capacity to sustain continuous wakefulness (slow process). The data indicate that the temporal organization of vigilance states on both the fast and the slow time scales may arise from a common neurophysiologic mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3515582  PMID: 23227197
5.  Regional Slow Waves and Spindles in Human Sleep 
Neuron  2011;70(1):153-169.
The most prominent EEG events in sleep are slow waves, reflecting a slow (<1 Hz) oscillation between up and down states in cortical neurons. It is unknown whether slow oscillations are synchronous across the majority or the minority of brain regions—are they a global or local phenomenon? To examine this, we recorded simultaneously scalp EEG, intracerebral EEG, and unit firing in multiple brain regions of neurosurgical patients. We find that most sleep slow waves and the underlying active and inactive neuronal states occur locally. Thus, especially in late sleep, some regions can be active while others are silent. We also find that slow waves can propagate, usually from medial prefrontal cortex to the medial temporal lobe and hippocampus. Sleep spindles, the other hallmark of NREM sleep EEG, are likewise predominantly local. Thus, intracerebral communication during sleep is constrained because slow and spindle oscillations often occur out-of-phase in different brain regions.
PMCID: PMC3108825  PMID: 21482364
6.  Reduction of EEG Theta Power and Changes in Motor Activity in Rats Treated with Ceftriaxone 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34139.
The glutamate transporter GLT-1 is responsible for the largest proportion of total glutamate transport. Recently, it has been demonstrated that ceftriaxone (CEF) robustly increases GLT-1 expression. In addition, physiological studies have shown that GLT-1 up-regulation strongly affects synaptic plasticity, and leads to an impairment of the prepulse inhibition, a simple form of information processing, thus suggesting that GLT-1 over-expression may lead to dysfunctions of large populations of neurons. To test this possibility, we assessed whether CEF affects cortical electrical activity by using chronic electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings in male WKY rats. Spectral analysis showed that 8 days of CEF treatment resulted in a delayed reduction in EEG theta power (7–9 Hz) in both frontal and parietal derivations. This decrease peaked at day 10, i.e., 2 days after the end of treatment, and disappeared by day 16. In addition, we found that the same CEF treatment increased motor activity, especially when EEG changes are more prominent. Taken together, these data indicate that GLT-1 up-regulation, by modulating glutamatergic transmission, impairs the activity of widespread neural circuits. In addition, the increased motor activity and prepulse inhibition alterations previously described suggest that neural circuits involved in sensorimotor control are particularly sensitive to GLT-1 up-regulation.
PMCID: PMC3316604  PMID: 22479544
7.  Electrophysiological correlates of sleep homeostasis in freely behaving rats 
Progress in brain research  2011;193:17-38.
The electrical activity of the brain does not only reflect the current level of arousal, ongoing behavior or involvement in a specific task, but is also influenced by what kind of activity, and how much sleep and waking occurred before. The best marker of sleep-wake history is the electroencephalogram (EEG) spectral power in slow frequencies (slow-wave activity, 0.5–4 Hz, SWA) during sleep, which is high after extended wakefulness and low after consolidated sleep. While sleep homeostasis has been well characterized in various species and experimental paradigms, the specific mechanisms underlying homeostatic changes in brain activity or their functional significance remain poorly understood. However, several recent studies in humans, rats and computer simulations shed light on the cortical mechanisms underlying sleep regulation. First, it was found that the homeostatic changes in SWA can be fully accounted for by the variations in amplitude and slope of EEG slow waves, which are in turn determined by the efficacy of cortico-cortical connectivity. Specifically, the slopes of sleep slow waves were steeper in early sleep compared to late sleep. Second, the slope of cortical evoked potentials, which is an established marker of synaptic strength, was steeper after waking and decreased after sleep. Furthermore, cortical long-term potentiation (LTP) was partially occluded if it was induced after a period of waking, but it could again be fully expressed after sleep. Finally, multiunit activity recordings during sleep revealed that cortical neurons fired more synchronously after waking, and less so after a period of consolidated sleep. The decline of all these electrophysiological measures - the slopes of slow waves and evoked potentials and neuronal synchrony – during sleep correlated with the decline of the traditional marker of sleep homeostasis, EEG SWA. Taken together, these data suggest that homeostatic changes in sleep EEG are the result of altered neuronal firing and synchrony, which in turn arise from changes in functional neuronal connectivity.
PMCID: PMC3160719  PMID: 21854953
sleep homeostasis; synaptic homeostasis; multiunit activity; neurons; cortex
8.  Unilateral Cortical Spreading Depression Affects Sleep Need and Induces Molecular and Electrophysiological Signs of Synaptic Potentiation In Vivo 
Cerebral Cortex (New York, NY)  2010;20(12):2939-2947.
Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is an electrophysiological phenomenon first described by Leao in 1944 as a suppression of spontaneous electroencephalographic activity, traveling across the cerebral cortex. In vitro studies suggest that CSD may induce synaptic potentiation. One recent study also found that CSD is followed by a non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep duration increase, suggesting an increased need for sleep. Recent experiments in animals and humans show that the occurrence of synaptic potentiation increases subsequent sleep need as measured by larger slow wave activity (SWA) during NREM sleep, prompting the question whether CSD can affect NREM SWA. Here, we find that, in freely moving rats, local CSD induction increases corticocortical evoked responses and strongly induces brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the affected cortical hemisphere but not in the contralateral one, consistent with synaptic potentiation in vivo. Moreover, for several hours after CSD, large slow waves occur in the affected hemisphere during rapid eye movement sleep and quiet waking but disappear during active exploration. Finally, we find that CSD increases NREM sleep duration and SWA, the latter specifically in the affected hemisphere. These effects are consistent with an increase in synaptic strength triggered by CSD, although nonphysiological phenomena associated with CSD may also play a role.
PMCID: PMC2978242  PMID: 20348156
cerebral cortex; EEG; rat; slow wave activity
9.  Local sleep in awake rats 
Nature  2011;472(7344):443-447.
When the brain is awake, neurons in the cerebral cortex fire irregularly and the electroencephalogram (EEG) displays low amplitude, high frequency fluctuations. After falling asleep, neurons start oscillating between ON periods, when they fire as during wake, and OFF periods, when they stop firing altogether, and the EEG displays high amplitude slow waves. But what happens to neuronal firing after a long period of wake? We show here in freely behaving rats that, after prolonged wake, cortical neurons can go briefly “OFF line” as they do in sleep, accompanied by slower waves in the local EEG. Strikingly, neurons often go OFF line in one cortical area and not in another. During these periods of “local sleep”, whose incidence increases with wake duration, rats appear awake, active, and display a wake EEG. However, they are progressively impaired in a sugar pellet reaching task. Thus, though both the EEG and behavior indicate wakefulness, local populations of neurons in the cortex may be falling asleep, with negative consequences on performance.
PMCID: PMC3085007  PMID: 21525926
slow wave sleep; slow oscillations; EEG; cerebral cortex; multi-unit recording; reaching task; sleep deprivation
10.  Cortical firing and sleep homeostasis 
Neuron  2009;63(6):865-878.
The need to sleep grows with the duration of wakefulness and dissipates with time spent asleep, a process called sleep homeostasis. What are the consequences of staying awake on brain cells, and why is sleep needed? Surprisingly, we do not know whether the firing of cortical neurons is affected by how long an animal has been awake or asleep. Here we found that after sustained wakefulness cortical neurons fire at higher frequencies in all behavioral states. During early NREM sleep after sustained wakefulness, periods of population activity (ON) are short, frequent, and associated with synchronous firing, while periods of neuronal silence are long and frequent. After sustained sleep, firing rates and synchrony decrease, while the duration of ON periods increases. Changes in firing patterns in NREM sleep correlate with changes in slow-wave-activity, a marker of sleep homeostasis. Thus, the systematic increase of firing during wakefulness is counterbalanced by staying asleep.
PMCID: PMC2819325  PMID: 19778514
slow wave sleep; slow oscillations; EEG; rat; cerebral cortex; multi-unit recording
Neuronal firing patterns, neuromodulators, and cerebral metabolism change across sleep waking states, and the synaptic release of glutamate is critically involved in these processes. Extrasynaptic glutamate can also affect neural function and may be neurotoxic, but whether and how extracellular glutamate is regulated across sleep-waking states is unclear. To assess the effect of behavioral state on extracellular glutamate at high temporal resolution, we recorded glutamate concentration in prefrontal and motor cortex using fixed-potential amperometry in freely behaving rats. Simultaneously, we recorded local field potentials (LFP) and electroencephalograms (EEG) from contralateral cortex. We observed dynamic, progressive changes in the concentration of glutamate that switched direction as a function of behavioral state. Specifically, the concentration of glutamate increased progressively during waking (0.329 ± 0.06 %/min) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (0.349 ±0.13 %/min). This increase was opposed by a progressive decrease during non-REM (NREM) sleep (0.338 ± 0.06 %/min). During a 3-hr sleep deprivation period, glutamate concentrations initially exhibited the progressive rise observed during spontaneous waking. As sleep pressure increased, glutamate concentrations ceased to increase and began decreasing despite continuous waking. During NREM sleep, the rate of decrease in glutamate was positively correlated with sleep intensity, as indexed by LFP slow wave activity. The rate of decrease doubled during recovery sleep after sleep deprivation. Thus, the progressive increase in cortical extrasynaptic glutamate during EEG-activated states is counteracted by a decrease during NREM sleep that is modulated by sleep pressure. These results provide evidence for a long-term homeostasis of extracellular glutamate across sleep-waking states.
PMCID: PMC2770705  PMID: 19158289
glutamate; in vivo amperometry; sleep; rat; cerebral cortex; EEG; slow wave activity
12.  Homeostatic regulation of sleep in the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii) 
BMC Neuroscience  2008;9:47.
Sleep is regulated by both a circadian and a homeostatic process. The homeostatic process reflects the duration of prior wakefulness: the longer one stays awake, the longer and/or more intense is subsequent sleep. In mammals, the best marker of the homeostatic sleep drive is slow wave activity (SWA), the electroencephalographic (EEG) power spectrum in the 0.5–4 Hz frequency range during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In mammals, NREM sleep SWA is high at sleep onset, when sleep pressure is high, and decreases progressively to reach low levels in late sleep. Moreover, SWA increases further with sleep deprivation, when sleep also becomes less fragmented (the duration of sleep episodes increases, and the number of brief awakenings decreases). Although avian and mammalian sleep share several features, the evidence of a clear homeostatic response to sleep loss has been conflicting in the few avian species studied so far. The aim of the current study was therefore to ascertain whether established markers of sleep homeostasis in mammals are also present in the white-crowned sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii), a migratory songbird of the order Passeriformes. To accomplish this goal, we investigated amount of sleep, sleep time course, and measures of sleep intensity in 6 birds during baseline sleep and during recovery sleep following 6 hours of sleep deprivation.
Continuous (24 hours) EEG and video recordings were used to measure baseline sleep and recovery sleep following short-term sleep deprivation. Sleep stages were scored visually based on 4-sec epochs. EEG power spectra (0.5–25 Hz) were calculated on consecutive 4-sec epochs. Four vigilance states were reliably distinguished based on behavior, visual inspection of the EEG, and spectral EEG analysis: Wakefulness (W), Drowsiness (D), slow wave sleep (SWS) and rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep. During baseline, SWA during D, SWS, and NREM sleep (defined as D and SWS combined) was highest at the beginning of the major sleep period and declined thereafter. Moreover, peak SWA in both SWS and NREM sleep increased significantly immediately following sleep deprivation relative to baseline.
As in mammals, sleep deprivation in the white-crowned sparrow increases the intensity of sleep as measured by SWA.
PMCID: PMC2424059  PMID: 18505569

Results 1-12 (12)