Synaptic plasticity in sleep: Learning, homeostasis and disease

Gordon Wang, Brian Grone, Damien Colas, Lior Appelbaum, Philippe Mourrain

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Scopus citations


Sleep is a fundamental and evolutionarily conserved aspect of animal life. Recent studies have shed light on the role of sleep in synaptic plasticity. Demonstrations of memory replay and synapse homeostasis suggest that one essential role of sleep is in the consolidation and optimization of synaptic circuits to retain salient memory traces despite the noise of daily experience. Here, we review this recent evidence and suggest that sleep creates a heightened state of plasticity, which may be essential for this optimization. Furthermore, we discuss how sleep deficits seen in diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and autism spectrum disorders might not just reflect underlying circuit malfunction, but could also play a direct role in the progression of those disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)452-463
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Our work is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NS062798, DK090065) .


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