The impact of cortical deafferentation on the neocortical slow oscillation. Lemieux M, Chen JY, Lonjers P, Bazhenov M, Timofeev I. J Neurosci. 2014 Apr 16;34(16):5689-703.

Slow oscillation is the main brain rhythm observed during deep sleep in mammals. Although several studies have demonstrated its neocortical origin, the extent of the thalamic contribution is still a matter of discussion. Using electrophysiological recordings in vivo on cats and computational modeling, we found that the local thalamic inactivation or the complete isolation of the neocortical slabs maintained within the brain dramatically reduced the expression of slow and fast oscillations in affected cortical areas. The slow oscillation began to recover 12 h after thalamic inactivation. The slow oscillation, but not faster activities, nearly recovered after 30 h and persisted for weeks in the isolated slabs. We also observed an increase of the membrane potential fluctuations recorded in vivo several hours after thalamic inactivation. Mimicking this enhancement in a network computational model with an increased postsynaptic activity of long-range intracortical afferents or scaling K(+) leak current, but not several other Na(+) and K(+) intrinsic currents was sufficient for recovering the slow oscillation. We conclude that, in the intact brain, the thalamus contributes to the generation of cortical active states of the slow oscillation and mediates its large-scale synchronization. Our study also suggests that the deafferentation-induced alterations of the sleep slow oscillation can be counteracted by compensatory intracortical mechanisms and that the sleep slow oscillation is a fundamental and intrinsic state of the neocortex.