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J Sleep Res. 1993 Jun;2(2):63-69.

A neuronal group theory of sleep function.

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Department of Physiology & Biophysics, University of Tennessee, Memphis, TN, USA.


A new theory of sleep function is presented within the context of the neuronal group selection hypothesis, which emphasizes that neuronal groups compete for neurons via use-dependent synaptic formation and atrophy. It is hypothesized that sleep serves to stabilize these competitive processes by providing a pattern of stimulation that serves to maintain a synaptic infrastructure upon which wakefulness-driven synaptic changes are superimposed. Sleep is 'quantal' in nature in that sleep is a statistical property of a population of neuronal groups in different states. The theory unifies past theories of sleep function yet simultaneously provides a fundamental new paradigm for sleep research.

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