Neural representations during sleep: from sensory processing to memory traces.
In the present study, ongoing and evoked activity of antidromically identified trigemino-thalamic tract (TGT) neurons was examined over the sleep-wake cycle in cats. There was no difference in the mean spike discharge rate of TGT neurons when quiet sleep (QS) and active sleep (AS) were compared with wakefulness (W). However, tooth pulp-evoked responses of TGT neurons were decreased during AS when compared to W. Conversely, the responses of TGT neurons to air puff activation of facial hair mechanoreceptors reciprocally increased during AS when compared to W. The present data demonstrate that ascending sensory information emanating from distinct orofacial areas is differentially modified during the behavioral state of AS. Specifically, the results obtained suggest that during AS, sensory information arising from hair mechanoreceptors is enhanced, whereas information arising from tooth pulp afferents is suppressed. These data may provide functional evidence for an AS-related gate control mechanism of sensory outflow to higher brain centers.