Cortical circuit activity underlying sleep slow oscillations and spindles

Niels Niethard*, Hong Viet V. Ngo, Ingrid Ehrlich, Jan Born

*Corresponding author for this work
54 Citations (Scopus)


Slow oscillations and sleep spindles are hallmarks of the EEG during slow-wave sleep (SWS). Both oscillatory events, especially when cooccurring in the constellation of spindles nesting in the slow oscillation upstate, are considered to support memory formation and underlying synaptic plasticity. The regulatory mechanisms of this function at the circuit level are poorly understood. Here, using twophoton imaging in mice, we relate EEG-recorded slow oscillations and spindles to calcium signals recorded from the soma of cortical putative pyramidal-like (Pyr) cells and neighboring parvalbuminpositive interneurons (PV-Ins) or somatostatin-positive interneurons (SOM-Ins). Pyr calcium activity was increased more than threefold when spindles co-occurred with slow oscillation upstates compared with slow oscillations or spindles occurring in isolation. Independent of whether or not a spindlewas nested in the slow oscillation upstate, the slow oscillation downstate was preceded by enhanced calcium signal in SOM-Ins that vanished during the upstate, whereas spindles were associated with strongly increased PV-In calcium activity. Additional wide-field calcium imaging of Pyr cells confirmed the enhanced calcium activity and its widespread topography associated with spindles nested in slow oscillation upstates. In conclusion, when spindles are nested in slow oscillation upstates, maximum Pyr activity appears to concur with strong perisomatic inhibition of Pyr cells via PV-Ins and low dendritic inhibition via SOM-Ins (i.e., conditions that might optimize synaptic plasticity within local cortical circuits).

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number39
Pages (from-to)E9220-E9229
Publication statusPublished - 25.09.2018

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


Dive into the research topics of 'Cortical circuit activity underlying sleep slow oscillations and spindles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this