Project ID NS-MH2024_17


Co Supervisor 1A Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, School of Neuroscience, Department of Basic & Clinical NeuroscienceWebsite

Co Supervisor 1B Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, School of Neuroscience, Department of Basic & Clinical NeuroscienceWebsite

Falling asleep: understanding how the brain sends us regularly into oblivion.

No matter how hard we try, we will eventually fall asleep. How this happen will be the focus of this PhD project. Sleep is a fundamental physiological process that plays an essential role in memory consolidation, emotional regulation, and overall cognitive performance. Consequently, sleep deprivation and poor sleep quality – be these for genetic, disease or life-style reasons – have detrimental effects on learning, attention and mental health. The project will focus on the mechanism of sleep onset, when complex interactions between different regions of the brain result in sensory disconnection and the descent into deep sleep.
The structural and functional organisation of the neuronal circuitries required for optimal sleep induction is not fully understood. The project will generate, compare and integrate animal and human data to gain new insights in the process of sleep onset. The project will use rodent models that exploit powerful genetic manipulations and in vivo perturbation and recording of neuronal activity to determine the causal relationship between defined neuronal classes, their patterns of activity and the induction of sleep. In parallel, the project will investigate normal and perturbed sleep onset in humans, testing predictions from the animal study and framing the broader clinical significance of those findings.
The candidate will gain first-hand experience in a range of advanced techniques in systems neuroscience including conditional mutagenesis (in mouse), EEG/EMG/video polysomnography (in human and mouse), chemogenetics (mouse), virus-mediated gene delivery (mouse), confocal microscopy (mouse), high density EEG (human), quantitative EEG analysis (mouse and human) and statistical data analysis (mouse and human).

Representative Publications

Brock O, Gelegen C, Sully P, Salgarella I, Jager P, Menage L, Mehta I, J?czmie?-?azur J, Djama D, Strother L, Coculla A, Vernon AC, Brickley S, Holland P, Cooke SF, Delogu A. A Role for Thalamic Projection GABAergic Neurons in Circadian Responses to Light. J Neurosci. 2022 Dec 7;42(49):9158-9179. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0112-21.2022.

Jager P, Ye Z, Yu X, Zagoraiou L, Prekop HT, Partanen J, Jessell TM, Wisden W, Brickley SG, Delogu A. Tectal-derived interneurons contribute to phasic and tonic inhibition in the visual thalamus. Nat Commun. 2016 Dec 8;7:13579. doi: 10.1038/ncomms13579.

Vyazovskiy VV, Delogu A. NREM and REM Sleep: Complementary Roles in Recovery after Wakefulness. Neuroscientist. 2014 Jun;20(3):203-19. doi: 10.1177/1073858413518152.

Wasserman, D., Gullone, S., Duncan, I. et al. Restricted truncal sagittal movements of rapid eye movement behaviour disorder. npj Parkinsons Dis. 8, 26 (2022).

Gelegen, C., Cash, D., Ilic, K. et al. Relevance of sleep and associated structural changes in GBA1 mouse to human rapid eye movement behavior disorder. Sci Rep 12, 7973 (2022).

Gnoni V, Higgins S, Nesbitt AD, et al. Cotard parasomnia: le délire de negation that occur during the sleep-wake dissociation? J Clin Sleep Med. 2020;16(6):971–976.