During NREM sleep, neocortical neurons undergo near-synchronous transitions, every second or so, between UP states, during which they are depolarized and fire actively, and DOWN states, during which they are hyperpolarized and completely silent. In this issue of Neuron, Isomura et al. report that slow oscillations of membrane potential occur near-synchronously not only in neocortex but also in entorhinal cortex and subiculum. Within the hippocampus proper, pyramidal neurons lack the bistability of UP and DOWN states, but their firing is strongly modulated by cortical activity during the UP state. Intriguingly, many hippocampal neurons fire during the cortical DOWN state. Thus, during sleep UP states, the cortex can talk to the hippocampus, but it is unclear whether the hippocampus talks back.
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