Dynamic neural remapping across the sleep-wake cycle: A mechanistic link between sensory re-organisation and GABA

Year of award: 2017


  • Dr Anat Arzi

    University of Cambridge

Project summary

Across a single day, we undergo behavioural, physiological and neurochemical changes, from vigilant wakefulness to unconscious sleep. Sensory processing continues during sleep despite the loss of consciousness. Attempts to assess the differences between sensory processing in wakefulness and sleep have yielded contradictory results with studies showing greater, smaller and comparable responses to the same stimuli. It remains unclear precisely how sensory processing is modulated throughout the sleep-wake cycle. Most studies have focused on responses to specific stimuli, neglecting the relationship between different stimuli.

We want to find out how vigilance state dynamically shapes sensory processing, by combining electroencephalography (EEG), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) and computational tools, measuring neural distances between stimuli to quantify sensory remapping across the sleep-wake cycle. We hypothesise that gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA), an inhibitory neurotransmitter implicated in sleep regulation and correlated with sensory sensitivity, has a central role in sensory remapping. 

Our goals are to elucidate the temporal and spatial dynamics of sensory remapping throughout the sleep-wake cycle and investigate whether sensory remapping across the sleep-wake cycle is dependent on GABA.