Why do we sleep? What does sleep do for the brain?

La Bohémienne Endormie by Henri Rousseau

The consolidation of recent experiences into long-term memories is a fundamental function of the brain and critical for survival. Consolidation is linked to plastic changes at synapses between neurons. However, very little is known about how this plasticity is brought about by ongoing activity in neuronal networks, and how different brain states (e.g. sleep and waking) contribute to the consolidation process.

We study how neuronal and network activity in sleeping and awake brain states contributes to plasticity following novel sensory experiences. By combining behavioral, biochemical, electrophysiological, and optogenetic techniques, we study the effects of waking experiences and sleep on neural circuits in the rodent brain.

 

 

Here are a few news stories on our lab’s work:

Sleep is vital to associating emotion with memory, according to U-M study

http://ns.umich.edu/new/releases/25133-deep-sleep-critical-for-visual-learning

http://lsa.umich.edu/lsa/news-events/all-news/search-news/the-science-of-sleep.html