Thalamocortical Assemblies. How ion channels, single neurons and large-scale networks organize sleep oscillations.
Alain Destexhe and Terrence J. Sejnowski

MONOGRAPHS OF THE PHYSIOLOGICAL SOCIETY, VOL. 49 Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, 2001 (ISBN 0-19-852425-0).

(see also the OUP webpage of the book).


During sleep, the mammalian brain generates an orderly progression of low frequency oscillations. The nature of these oscillations changes as the brain moves from sleep onset into deep sleep. Although readily measured and recorded, the underlying neural mechanisms involved and the purpose of these oscillations have remained unclear. However, as we learn more about the properties of neurons in the thalamus and cerebral cortex and their interactions, it has become possible to suggest a role for these occurrences.

This book reviews the molecular components and ionic mechanisms underlying sleep oscillations, including the properties of ion channels, synaptic receptors and the patterns of interconnectivity among thalamic and cortical neurons. These properties are used to build detailed computational models of thalamocortical assemblies and their collective behavior.

The precise experimental data collected has provided a foundation for the study of dynamic activity in the central brain systems and it is now possible to suggest a role for thalamocortical oscillations in memory consolidation.

Thalamocortical Assemblies is for neuroscientists, neurobiologists, physiologists and other researchers interested in sleep and memory processes.

Chapter I – Introduction
    1.1. Brain rhythmicities 1.2. Early views on brain rhythmicity 1.3. Origins of brain rhythmicity 1.4. Identification of the key neuronal structures 1.5. Thalamocortical assemblies
    Chapter II – Biophysical models of the membrane potential and ionic currents
      2.1. Ionic bases of neuronal excitability 2.2. Calcium-dependent ion channels 2.3. Markov models of voltage-dependent ion channels
      Chapter III – Electrophysiological properties of thalamic relay neurons 3.1. The bursting properties of thalamic relay neurons 3.2. Oscillatory properties of thalamic relay cells 3.3. Intrinsic waxing-and-waning oscillations in thalamic relay cells 3.4. Dendritic T-current in thalamic relay cells
      Chapter IV – Electrophysiological properties of thalamic reticular neurons 4.1. The rebound burst of thalamic reticular cells 4.2. Intrinsic oscillations in RE cells 4.3. Dendritic T-current in thalamic reticular cells
      Chapter V – Biophysical models of synaptic interactions 5.1. Transmitter release 5.2. Models for different types of postsynaptic receptors 5.3. Models of synaptic transmission including extracellular diffusion of transmitter
      Chapter VI – Spindle oscillations in thalamic circuits 6.1. Experimental characterization of sleep spindle oscillations 6.2. Models of rhythmicity in the isolated reticular nucleus 6.3. Models of rhythmicity arising from thalamic relay-reticular interactions 6.4. Why does the RE nucleus oscillate in vivo but not in vitro? 6.5. Network model of spindle oscillations in ferret thalamic slices 6.6. Intrathalamic augmenting responses
      Chapter VII – Spindle oscillations in the thalamocortical system 7.1. Experimental characterization of spindle oscillations in the thalamocortical system 7.2. A thalamocortical network model of spindle oscillations 7.3. The large-scale synchrony of spindle oscillations during natural sleep 7.4. Thalamocortical augmenting responses
      Chapter VIII – Thalamocortical mechanisms for spike-and-wave epileptic seizures 8.1. Experimental characterization of paroxysmal oscillations 8.2. Modeling the genesis of paroxysmal discharges in the thalamus 8.3. Model of spike-and-wave oscillations in the thalamocortical system
      Chapter IX – A physiological role for sleep oscillations? 9.1. Impact of thalamic inputs on neocortical neurons 9.2. Oscillations during natural sleep and wakefulness 9.3. A possible function for sleep oscillations 9.4. A computational theory of sleep
      Appendices A – Ionic bases of the membrane potential B – Optimized algorithms for simulating synaptic currents C – Data available on the Internet

    Cover (PDF)
    Extracts (PDF)