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Nat Commun. 2015 Aug 11;6:7884. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8884.

Single-neuron activity and eye movements during human REM sleep and awake vision.

Author information

  • 11] Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique (UMR8554), EHESS/CNRS/ENS-DEC, 75005 Paris, France [2] Ecole Doctorale Cerveau Cognition Comportement, ENS/EHESS/ParisVI/ParisV, 75005 Paris, France [3] Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Blvd, Madison, Wisconsin 53719, USA.
  • 2Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sackler School of Medicine, and Sagol School of Neuroscience, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.
  • 3Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 6001 Research Park Blvd, Madison, Wisconsin 53719, USA.
  • 41] Department of Neurosurgery, David Geffen School of Medicine and Semel Institute For Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, 710 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA [2] Functional Neurosurgery Unit, Tel Aviv Medical Center and Sackler School of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel.


Are rapid eye movements (REMs) in sleep associated with visual-like activity, as during wakefulness? Here we examine single-unit activities (n=2,057) and intracranial electroencephalography across the human medial temporal lobe (MTL) and neocortex during sleep and wakefulness, and during visual stimulation with fixation. During sleep and wakefulness, REM onsets are associated with distinct intracranial potentials, reminiscent of ponto-geniculate-occipital waves. Individual neurons, especially in the MTL, exhibit reduced firing rates before REMs as well as transient increases in firing rate immediately after, similar to activity patterns observed upon image presentation during fixation without eye movements. Moreover, the selectivity of individual units is correlated with their response latency, such that units activated after a small number of images or REMs exhibit delayed increases in firing rates. Finally, the phase of theta oscillations is similarly reset following REMs in sleep and wakefulness, and after controlled visual stimulation. Our results suggest that REMs during sleep rearrange discrete epochs of visual-like processing as during wakefulness.

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