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Epilepsy Behav. 2009 Jan;14 Suppl 1:47-53. doi: 10.1016/j.yebeh.2008.09.026.

Synaptic plasticity along the sleep-wake cycle: implications for epilepsy.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Psychiatry and Medical Psychology, Ribeirão Preto School of Medicine, University of São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil.


Activity-dependent changes in synaptic efficacy (i.e., synaptic plasticity) can alter the way neurons communicate and process information as a result of experience. Synaptic plasticity mechanisms involve both molecular and structural modifications that affect synaptic functioning, either enhancing or depressing neuronal transmission. They include redistribution of postsynaptic receptors, activation of intracellular signaling cascades, and formation/retraction of dendritic spines, among others. During the sleep-wake cycle, as the result of particular neurochemical and neuronal firing modes, distinct oscillatory patterns organize the activity of neuronal populations, modulating synaptic plasticity. Such modulation, for example, has been shown in the visual cortex following sleep deprivation and in the ability to induce hippocampal long-term potentiation during sleep. In epilepsy, synchronized behavioral states tend to contribute to the initiation of paroxystic discharges and are considered more epileptogenic than desynchronized states. Here, we review some of the current understandings of synaptic plasticity changes in wake and sleep states and how sleep may affect epileptic seizures.

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