Same brain cells active during sleep and exploration in mice

Researchers have mapped the activity of individual neurons deep in the brain during sleep and exploration of novel objects in male and female mice. The study, published in JNeurosci, suggests these cells may facilitate memory formation.

Melanin-concentrating hormone (MCH) neurons are active during rapid-eye movement (REM) sleep, when dreaming—and perhaps memory consolidation—occurs. Carlos Blanco, Priyattam Shiromani, and colleagues at the Medical University of South Carolina and Yale University School of Medicine report 70 percent of MCH neurons that were strongly activated during REM sleep were also active when mice explored interesting objects like a binder clip or a bottle cap.

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