Steyn-Ross, M. L., Steyn-Ross, D. A., Sleigh, J. W., Wilson, M. T. & Wilcocks, L. C. (2005). Proposed mechanism for learning and memory erasure in a white-noise-driven sleeping cortex. Physical Review E, 72, 061910.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/1434
Understanding the structure and purpose of sleep remains one of the grand challenges of neurobiology. Here we use a mean-field linearized theory of the sleeping cortex to derive statistics for synaptic learning and memory erasure. The growth in correlated low-frequency high-amplitude voltage fluctuations during slow-wave sleep (SWS) is characterized by a probability density function that becomes broader and shallower as the transition into rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep is approached. At transition, the Shannon information entropy of the fluctuations is maximized. If we assume Hebbian-learning rules apply to the cortex, then its correlated response to white-noise stimulation during SWS provides a natural mechanism for a synaptic weight change that will tend to shut down reverberant neural activity. In contrast, during REM sleep the weights will evolve in a direction that encourages excitatory activity. These entropy and weight-change predictions lead us to identify the final portion of deep SWS that occurs immediately prior to transition into REM sleep as a time of enhanced erasure of labile memory. We draw a link between the sleeping cortex and Landauer's dissipation theorem for irreversible computing [R. Landauer, IBM J. Res. Devel. 5, 183 (1961)], arguing that because information erasure is an irreversible computation, there is an inherent entropy cost as the cortex transits from SWS into REM sleep.
American Physical Society