EDITOR'S CHOICE IN MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
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A. Kim et al., “Optogenetically induced sleep spindle rhythms alter sleep architectures in mice,” PNAS, 109:20673-78, 2012.
Sleep spindles are EEG-detected oscillations in brain activity, lasting from 0.5 to 3 seconds, that occur during non-REM sleep. Earlier work had proposed that neurons generating sleep-spindle patterns might help maintain sleep, as studies tied increased sleep-spindle frequency to hypersomnia, or extended periods of sleep. But these were only correlations. Now, Hee-Sup Shin of the University of Science and Technology in Daejeon, Korea, and colleagues have shown for the first time that sleep spindles in fact are responsible for maintaining longer periods of non-REM sleep.
Shin’s group used optogenetics—a technique that activates selected neurons via a genetically inserted light...