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Dynamics of the thalamo-cortical system driven by pulsed sensory stimulation

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There exists a large body of evidence pointing to an essential role of sleep in memory consolidation [13]. In particular non-REM sleep seems to be important for consolidating declarative memories [4]. Boosting the so-called slow oscillations (<1 Hz) during non-REM sleep via transcranial electric stimulation leads to a potentiation of memory [5]. It has also been demonstrated that slow oscillations can be induced by optogenetic, magnetic and acoustic stimulation [68]. Here we present data from human sleep studies and modeling results on the thalamo-cortical system under sensory stimulation, that give new clues for effective stimulation protocols. We use a population model that exhibits important features of brain activity during non-REM sleep, e.g. spindles, cortical

slow oscillations with gamma activity and clock-like delta oscillations. The model aims at reproducing evoked responses of auditory and visual stimuli at several frequencies. We extend previous results on the phase-dependent response of isolated cortex [9] to stimuli which are time-locked to spindle and slow oscillation events and test the hypothesis that the main factor determining thalamic gating properties in non-REM sleep is the phase of the cortical slow oscillation.


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Correspondence to Arne Weigenand.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Weigenand, A., Costa, M.S., Ngo, H. et al. Dynamics of the thalamo-cortical system driven by pulsed sensory stimulation. BMC Neurosci 14, P67 (2013) doi:10.1186/1471-2202-14-S1-P67

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  • Electric Stimulation
  • Visual Stimulus
  • Population Model
  • Memory Consolidation
  • Stimulation Protocol