Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 1 - STATEDEPENDENTPROCES (Markers and mechanisms of sensory disconnection)

In the first two years of the grant period, we have made significant progress addressing the scientific questions we set out to study. Using rodent electrophysiology, we reveal robust differences between A1 and perirhinal cortex in their auditory responses in sleep and anesthesia. Identification of candidate regions such as perirhinal cortex, that show differential auditory responses across behavioral states, paves the path for future mechanistic studies. Using human sleep-EEG, we establish that the sleeping brain is unable to effectively synchronize large neuronal populations in response to rapid sensory stimulation, and is unable to perform high-level language processing, despite preserved auditory responses. This demonstrates that while the brain continues to be highly active and responsive to external events during sleep, high-level processing and the ability to track fine temporal details in the sensory stimulus are specifically compromised in disconnected states. Pharmacological noradrenergic manipulations in both rodents and human suggest that the locus-coeruleus noradrenaline (LC-NE) system may facilitate sensory incorporation in wakefulness and its reduced levels in sleep may mediate disconnection. Overall, the results so far support the hypothesis and establish a novel platform to examine the fundamental question of sensory disconnection. We are identifying brain regions and time windows in which there are robust differences in sensory processing across states, and preliminary results suggest that LC-NE activity in rats and humans may play a causal role.

Our research leads to new discoveries that broadly impact the neuroscience community and the society at large. We spend a third of our lives sleeping. Understanding the neuronal processes governing sleep disconnection is extremely relevant for the growing difficulty to initiate and maintain sleep that affects millions of individuals, giving rise to emotional distress, daytime fatigue, loss of productivity, constitutes a risk factor for many medical conditions. In addition, scientific impact includes the supervision of postdoctoral fellows and graduate students. Through training in my lab, students and fellows gain expertise in neuroscience and disseminate knowledge. Undergraduate and graduate teaching, as well as participation in conferences, ensure a broad transfer of knowledge within and the European science community.

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Life Sciences
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