Current Sleep Medicine Reports

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 112–117 | Cite as

Behavioral States Modulate Sensory Processing in Early Development

  • James C. DooleyEmail author
  • Greta Sokoloff
  • Mark S. Blumberg
Sleep and Development (L Tarokh, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep and Development


Purpose of Review

Sleep-wake states modulate cortical activity in adults. In infants, however, such modulation is less clear; indeed, early cortical activity comprises bursts of neural activity driven predominantly by peripheral sensory input. Consequently, in many studies of sensory development in rodents, sensory processing has been carefully investigated, but the modulatory role of behavioral state has typically been ignored.

Recent Findings

In the developing visual and somatosensory systems, it is now known that sleep and wake states modulate sensory processing. Further, in both systems, the nature of this modulation shifts rapidly during the second postnatal week, with subcortical nuclei changing how they gate sensory inputs.


The interactions among sleep and wake movements, sensory processing, and development are dynamic and complex. Now that established methods exist to record neural activity in unanesthetized infant animals, we can provide a more comprehensive understanding of how infant sleep-wake states interact with sensory-driven responses to promote developmental plasticity.


Cortical development REM sleep Activity-dependent development Movement Visual system Somatosensory system 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

James C. Dooley, Greta Sokoloff, and Mark S. Blumberg each declare no conflict of interest.

Human and Animal Rights Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James C. Dooley
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Greta Sokoloff
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Mark S. Blumberg
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Psychological & Brain SciencesUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.DeLTA CenterUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  3. 3.Iowa Neuroscience InstituteUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  4. 4.Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in NeuroscienceUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA
  5. 5.Department of BiologyUniversity of IowaIowa CityUSA

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