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Synaptic plasticity across sleep and wakefulness

Marcos G. Frank
Department of Neuroscience, School of Medicine , University of Pennsylvania , USA

Converging lines of evidence support the theory that sleep promotes brain plasticity. Nevertheless, the theory remains controversial because there are few model systems where sleep has been shown to directly influence synaptic remodeling. We have shown that sleep and sleep loss directly influence ocular dominance plasticity (ODP) in vivo: a canonical form of cortical plasticity triggered by monocular deprivation during a critical period of development. In the last forty years, the study of ODP has provided important insights into plasticity in many parts of the brain and across the lifespan. Therefore our studies may one day reveal general rules by which sleep modifies synapses in the intact brain.