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Communication from the cerebellum to the neocortex during sleep spindles

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Wei Xu, Felipe De Carvalho, Alex Clarke, Professor Andrew Jackson



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2020 The AuthorsSurprisingly little is known about neural activity in the sleeping cerebellum. Using long-term wireless recording, we characterised dynamic cerebro-thalamo-cerebellar interactions during natural sleep in monkeys. Similar sleep cycles were evident in both M1 and cerebellum as cyclical fluctuations in firing rates as well as a reciprocal pattern of slow waves and sleep spindles. Directed connectivity from motor cortex to the cerebellum suggested a neocortical origin of slow waves. Surprisingly however, spindles were associated with a directional influence from the cerebellum to motor cortex, conducted via the thalamus. Furthermore, the relative phase of spindle-band oscillations in the neocortex and cerebellum varied systematically with their changing amplitudes. We used linear dynamical systems analysis to show that this behaviour could only be explained by a system of two coupled oscillators. These observations appear inconsistent with a single spindle generator within the thalamo-cortical system, and suggest instead a cerebellar contribution to neocortical sleep spindles. Since spindles are implicated in the off-line consolidation of procedural learning, we speculate that this may involve communication via cerebello-thalamo-neocortical pathways in sleep.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Xu W, De Carvalho F, Clarke AK, Jackson A

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Progress in Neurobiology

Year: 2021

Volume: 199

Print publication date: 01/04/2021

Online publication date: 05/11/2020

Acceptance date: 01/11/2020

Date deposited: 19/02/2021

ISSN (print): 0301-0082

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5118

Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


DOI: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2020.101940

PubMed id: 33161064


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Funder referenceFunder name
Wellcome Trust