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The ups and downs of the seemingly idle brain

Even in its quietest moments, the brain is never “off.” Instead, while under anesthesia, during slow-wave sleep, or even amid calm wakefulness, the brain’s cortex maintains a cycle of activity and quiet called “up” and “down” states. A new study by neuroscientists probed deep into this somewhat in mice, to learn more about how the mammalian brain accomplishes it.

Cortical colors
This image shows inhibitory cells abound in the barrel cortex of the mouse, where three main types were labeled to fluoresce in different colors: PV (red), SOM (blue), and 5HT3aR, which includes VIP and NPY, (green).
Credit:Connors lab/Brown University


The National Institutes of Health (grants NS-050434, MH-086400, and T32NS062443) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (grant DARPA-BAA-09-27) supported the research.

Brown University