Research-Projects

The three long-term goals of the Collaborative Res

The general hypothesis of the proposed SFB is that sleep promotes adaptive plastic processes, i.e., processes of memory formation that enable a longer-term stable regulation within differ-ent functional organ systems. As a matter of principle, the sleep-dependent formation of memories represents an active process. Sleep provides optimal conditions for this process since during this phase interference from environmental stimuli and a potential disruption of underlying plastic processes is minimized.

Biological memory processes can be subdivided into three phases: (i) the learning phase during which acute stimulus processing leads to the encoding of an initially labile memory representation of the stimulus, (ii) the consolidation phase that leads to persistence of the memory representation and its integration within long-term memories, and (iii) the recall phase during which the stored material is retrieved in an appropriate context. While the wake state ensures a most efficient communication of the organism with its environment through optimization of learning and recall functions, the consolidation of memory is optimized dur-ing sleep. Consolidation is not only a strengthening of fresh memory representation but can involve also an active reorganization of the fresh representations for long-term storage. Con-solidation is transferred to the sleep phase because stimulus processing (relating to learning and recall) and consolidation are incompatible, since both processes occur in the same cellular systems and networks. The acute processing of stimuli is suppressed for the most part during sleep.

Three levels shall be studied, for which sleep-associated memory formation and respec-tive plastic processes are especially important: the neurobehavioral, the metabolic and the immunological level. The basic hypothesis here is that the regulation of memory-forming plastic processes at all these levels is at least partly conveyed via the same mechanisms and signals. We also assume that the memory processes at these levels are controlled jointly by a supraordinate regulatory system during sleep.

On this background the proposed SFB pursues three

These long-term goals are shared by all projects of the SFB. Conjointly, all projects of this SFB aim at identifying key signals and mechanisms that ubiquitously enhance the mem-ory function of sleep at all three levels of interest. We expect that this knowledge of sleep-dependent mechanisms of plasticity ultimately allows the development of new and more efficient therapeutic strategies in multiple brain, metabolic and immunological diseases.

The three fields of research and their projects:

Neurology Metabolism Immunology

Last Update: 26.06.2013