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The thalamus plays a central role in sleep rhythms in the mammalian brain and, yet, surprisingly little is known about its function and interaction with local cortical oscillations during NREM sleep (NREM). We investigated the neuronal correlates of cortical barrel activity in the two corresponding thalamic nuclei, the ventral posterior medial (VPM), and the posterior medial (Pom) nuclei during natural NREM in mice. Our data reveal (1) distinct modulations of VPM and Pom activity throughout NREM episodes, (2) a thalamic nucleus-specific phase-locking to cortical slow and spindle waves, (3) cell-specific subthreshold spindle oscillations in VPM neurons that only partially overlap with cortical spindles, and (4) that spindle features evolve throughout NREM episodes and vary according to the post-NREM state. Taken together, our results suggest that, during natural sleep, the barrel cortex exerts a leading role in the generation and transfer of slow rhythms to the somatosensory thalamus and reciprocally for spindle oscillations.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Cell reports
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The period of time following the triggering of an ACTION POTENTIAL when the CELL MEMBRANE has changed to an unexcitable state and is gradually restored to the resting (excitable) state. During the absolute refractory period no other stimulus can trigger a response. This is followed by the relative refractory period during which the cell gradually becomes more excitable and the stronger impulse that is required to illicit a response gradually lessens to that required during the resting state.
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