Physiological and psychological evidence have been accumulated concerning the function of sleep in development and learning/memory. Many conceptual ideas have been proposed to elucidate the mechanisms underlying them. Sleep consists of a wide variety of physiological processes. It has not yet been clarified which processes are involved in development and learning/memory processes. We have found that single neuronal activity exhibits a slowly fluctuating rate of discharge during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and a random low discharge rate during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. It is suggested that a structural change of the neural network attractor underlies this neuronal dynamics-alternation by mathematical modeling. Functional interpretation of the neuronal dynamics-alternation was provided in combination with the phase locking of ponto-geniculo-occipital (PGO)/pontine (P) wave to the hippocampal theta wave, each of which is known to be involved in learning/memory processes. More directly, by the long-term sensory deprivation, the dynamics of neural activity during sleep was found to progressively change in a non-monotonic way. This finding reveals a possible interaction between sleep and reorganization of neural network in the matured brain. Here, in addition to the related findings, we described our idea about how sleep contributes to the learning/memory processes and reorganization of neural network of the matured brain through characteristic neural activities during sleep.
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