Mechanisms of Sleep-Dependent Consolidation of Cortical Plasticity
Sara J. Aton, Julie Seibt, Michelle Dumoulin, Sushil K. Jha, Nicholas Steinmetz, Tammi Coleman, Nirinjini Naidoo, and Marcos G. Frank
Sleep is thought to consolidate changes in synaptic strength, but the underlying mechanisms are unknown. We investigated the cellular events involved in this process during ocular dominance plasticity (ODP)—a canonical form of in vivo cortical plasticity triggered by monocular deprivation (MD) and consolidated by sleep via undetermined, activity-dependent mechanisms. We find that sleep consolidates ODP primarily by strengthening cortical responses to nondeprived eye stimulation. Consolidation is inhibited by reversible, intracortical antagonism of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) or cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) during post-MD sleep. Consolidation is also associated with sleep-dependent increases in the activity of remodeling neurons and in the phosphorylation of proteins required for potentiation of glutamatergic synapses. These findingsdemonstrate that synaptic strengthening via NMDAR and PKA activity is a key step in sleep-dependent consolidation of ODP.