Sleep deprivation may disrupt the brain's ability to integrate information over time, potentially contributing to the decline in cognitive performance observed during extended time awake, suggests a study in rats published in JNeurosci.
Information processing is thought to depend on reverberating brain that supports the integration of information over extended time periods and across different brain regions. In their study of male rats, Christian Meisel and colleagues found that the long timescales characterizing persistent activity of neural networks while awake breaks down during sleep. Sleep-deprived rats, which the researchers kept awake by providing them with novel objects like blocks and balls, exhibited rapid transitions between wake- and sleep-like states associated with brief pauses in individual neuron firing. These "offline" periods led to a progressive disruption of the ongoing activity traces and their long timescales. Long timescales in network activity were restored after a consecutive recovery sleep period.
These findings suggest that different vigilance states exhibit varying degrees of information integration capabilities and that one function of sleep may be to reset the activity of neural networks to support optimal information processing while awake.
Article: The interplay between long- and short-range temporal correlations shapes cortex dynamics across vigilance states
Corresponding author: Christian Meisel (National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA), firstname.lastname@example.org
JNeurosci, the Society for Neuroscience's first journal, was launched in 1981 as a means to communicate the findings of the highest quality neuroscience research to the growing field. Today the journal remains committed to publishing cutting-edge neuroscience that will have an immediate and lasting scientific impact while responding to authors' changing publishing needs, representing breadth of the field and diversity in authorship.
About The Society for Neuroscience
The Society for Neuroscience is the world's largest organization of scientists and physicians devoted to understanding the brain and nervous system. The nonprofit organization, founded in 1969, now has nearly 37,000 members in more than 90 countries and over 130 chapters worldwide.