Progress in Sleep Studies in the Epoch of Electrophysiology. The Visceral Theory of Sleep
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Electrophysiological methods of studying the nervous system have opened up new opportunities in sleep research. The spike frequencies of neurons in the cerebral cortex during sleep not only do not decrease but can significantly exceed their mean activity level during waking. One hypothesis explaining the high activity of cortical neurons when sensory perception thresholds are elevated and conduction of signals from the external world and the body to the cerebral cortex is virtually blocked is the visceral theory of sleep, which suggests that during sleep the cerebral cortex starts to receive interoceptive afferentation from all the body’s visceral systems for analysis. This article reviews studies addressing the direct experimental verification of this theory.
Keywordssleep visceral systems electrophysiology visceral theory of sleep purpose of sleep
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