The role of the hypothalamus in cortical arousal and sleep homeostasis
Yamagata T., Kahn M., Šabanović M., Guillaumin MCC., van der Vinne V., Huang Y-G., McKillop L., Jagannath A., Peirson S., Mann E., Foster R., Vyazovskiy V.
Sleep and wakefulness are not simple homogenous all-or-none states, but instead are characterized by rich dynamics of brain activity across many temporal and spatial scales. Rapid global state transitions between waking and sleeping are believed to be controlled by hypothalamic circuits, but the contribution of the hypothalamus to within-state changes of sleep and wake “intensity” remains largely unexplored. Here we show that stimulation of inhibitory neurons in the preoptic hypothalamus does not merely trigger awakening from sleep, but the resulting awake state is also characterized by increased cortical activity. This activation is associated with a faster build-up of sleep pressure, proportional to the arousal level. These findings show that hypothalamic systems thought to exclusively control global state switching, also regulate within-state “intensity”, which we propose as a key intrinsic variable in shaping the architecture of sleep/wake states across the 24h day.