Synaptic Mechanisms of Memory Consolidation during Sleep Slow Oscillations. Wei Y, Krishnan GP, Bazhenov M. J Neurosci. 2016 Apr 13;36(15):4231-47.

Sleep is critical for regulation of synaptic efficacy, memories, and learning. However, the underlying mechanisms of how sleep rhythms contribute to consolidating memories acquired during wakefulness remain unclear. Here we studied the role of slow oscillations, 0.2-1 Hz rhythmic transitions between Up and Down states during stage 3/4 sleep, on dynamics of synaptic connectivity in the thalamocortical network model implementing spike-timing-dependent synaptic plasticity. We found that the spatiotemporal pattern of Up-state propagation determines the changes of synaptic strengths between neurons. Furthermore, an external input, mimicking hippocampal ripples, delivered to the cortical network results in input-specific changes of synaptic weights, which persisted after stimulation was removed. These synaptic changes promoted replay of specific firing sequences of the cortical neurons. Our study proposes a neuronal mechanism on how an interaction between hippocampal input, such as mediated by sharp wave-ripple events, cortical slow oscillations, and synaptic plasticity, may lead to consolidation of memories through preferential replay of cortical cell spike sequences during slow-wave sleep.