Muller (2016): Rotating waves during sleep spindlesPosted: November 23, 2016
Muller et al. eLife 2016;5:e17267. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.17267
Abstract During sleep, the thalamus generates a characteristic pattern of transient, 11-15 Hz
sleep spindle oscillations, which synchronize the cortex through large-scale thalamocortical loops.
Spindles have been increasingly demonstrated to be critical for sleep-dependent consolidation of
memory, but the specific neural mechanism for this process remains unclear. We show here that
cortical spindles are spatiotemporally organized into circular wave-like patterns, organizing
neuronal activity over tens of milliseconds, within the timescale for storing memories in large-scale
networks across the cortex via spike-time dependent plasticity. These circular patterns repeat over
hours of sleep with millisecond temporal precision, allowing reinforcement of the activity patterns
through hundreds of reverberations. These results provide a novel mechanistic account for how
global sleep oscillations and synaptic plasticity could strengthen networks distributed across the
cortex to store coherent and integrated memories.