Cortical neurons fire intermittently and synchronously during non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS), in which active and silent periods are referred to as ON and OFF periods, respectively. Neuronal firing rates during ON periods (NREMS-ON-Activity) are similar to those of wakefulness (W-Activity), raising the possibility that NREMS-ON neuronal-Activity is fragmented W-Activity. To test this, we investigated the patterning and organization of cortical spike trains and of spike ensembles in neuronal networks using extracellular recordings in mice. Firing rates of neurons during NREMS-ON andWwere similar, but showed enhanced bursting in NREMS with no apparent preference in occurrence, relative to the beginning or end of the on-state. Additionally, there was an overall increase in the randomness of occurrence of sequences comprised of multi-neuron ensembles in NREMS recorded from tetrodes. In association with increased burst firing, somatic calcium transients were increased in NREMS. The increased calcium transients associated with bursting during NREM may activate calcium-dependent, cell-signaling pathways for sleep related cellular processes.
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